Even if their predictions don’t come true, you have to give it to the groundhogs of the eastern seaboard: At least they’re all telling the same story.
On Sunday, Queen Charlotte (the city’s groundhog), Sir Walter Wally (of Raleigh) and Punxsutawney Phil of Punxsutawney, Pa., all independently saw their shadows, predicting six more weeks of winter.
If the groundhogs had failed to see their shadows, tradition says, spring would be just around the corner.
During the big reveal at 1:30 p.m. at the Charlotte Nature Museum, attendees groaned when organizers announced that Queen Charlotte had seen her shadow.
“It’s OK. You did your best,” coordinator Gail Lemiec said as she smiled down at Queen Charlotte in her arms onstage.
At least some meteorologists agree with Queen Charlotte and the other groundhogs.
A few of the nation’s top long-range forecasters said last week they expect at least a few more winter weather episodes in the Southeast.
The official government forecast from NOAA differs. That agency’s meteorologists predict a fairly good chance of above-average temperatures in the Carolinas and elsewhere in the Southeast during February and March.
Backing Queen Charlotte are the meteorologists at AccuWeather, one of the nation’s leading private weather companies. Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather’s long-range specialist, said he expects a “slow transition to spring” in the Southeast.
That means some warm periods but also a few intrusions of colder air and possibly wintry precipitation.
Joe Bastardi, a nationally recognized meteorologist at Weather Bell, has issued a similar forecast.
This week will provide a good example of what they’re talking about. After high temperatures Sunday in the upper 60s, meteorologists expect readings only in the upper 30s Tuesday with rain. Then it is forecast to reach the mid 60s Wednesday. By Friday, we could be looking at sleet or freezing rain falling somewhere in the Carolinas.
Sharon Herman, guest services coordinator of the Charlotte event, said the event is one of the museum’s biggest of the year. Last year, more than 800 attended. In addition to the shadow check, the museum provided crafts, story time and a puppet show.
“I don’t know what the Super Bowl competition is going to do, but it’s a really fun day,” she said.
Scott Roberts of south Charlotte brought his twins, Graham and Gabriella, both 5.
Originally from Pennsylvania, he said his family had a tradition of watching the festivities in Punxsutawney before they moved to North Carolina.
“This was a way people predicted the weather before the Weather Channel,” he said.
He added that weather also is important to him because he works as a nursery tree farmer in Chester, S.C.
To prep for the day, Roberts said, he showed his kids YouTube videos of Punxsutawney Phil.
Although many were disappointed with the prediction, Gabriella saw it coming just moments before the shadow check.
“He’ll see (his shadow) because it’s sunny and everyone can see their shadow,” she said.
Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero
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