Groundhog Day weather

Good morning, Tor, it’s your twelfth birthday, and also (as usual) it’s Candlemas, the day when the groundhog emerges from his burrow and, if he sees his shadow, goes back in, because “If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come, Winter, have another flight.”

This picture may look like porridge, but it’s a satellite view from yesterday evening (as the shadow of night approached from the east).  The clouds hide most of the coastlines and boundaries, but you can make out Iberia (Portugal and Spain) in the lower left, and there’s a red star, meaning, I think, lightning, somewhere near where you are in central Portugal.

You seem to be just inside a great swath of cloud, which slopes northeast and curves up past the British Isles.  There is another such swath over more eastern parts of Europe.  If you could see the picture moving, you would see both of the cloud systems rotating slowly counterclockwise, like cogs against each other.  They also tend to drift eastward.  It appears you will be still in, or deeper in, the cloud band today and your local animals will not see sharp shadows of themselves.

So the groundhog may know that a warmer than usual spring is coming.  Quite likely, since each of the last three years has been the hottest on record.

These systems of counterclockwise-swirling rising rainy air, and the region over the Mediterranean which is clockwise-swirling, sinking, mostly cloud-free air, are parts of the zones that wrap around the world, and that shift southward in winter and northward in summer.  I started making a “Weather” section for my Under-Standing of Eclipses, to lead into the weather prospects for the eclipse coming to the U.S. on August 21 (your cousin Madeline’s first birthday), but I decided it would be too much.


4 thoughts on “Groundhog Day weather”

  1. Hi! There were clouds, moving probably faster than a airplane (not to mention brief rain at one period), but sunlight seemed relatively capable of breaching them. I don’t think we have groundhogs here, but cats there are plenty—we have at least four specimens that would probably see their shadow, considering their outdoors affairs, but as for one nap-loving individual of the name Shnaoka, I believe she never leaves the ground long enough to see her shadow on it. As for Smudge, our merry agoraphobic, considering that he’s not fleeing from it, it’s quite possible he hasn’t seen his yet.

  2. “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow, it’s clouds illusions I recall. I really don’t know clouds, at all.” — Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now”

    As I’ve been getting interested in navigation and sailing (in that order, which is completely backwards!) I’ve also become more interested in understanding the weather. Clouds, which previously were only an unwelcome impediment to astronomical observation, have become interesting and sometimes quite beautiful in their own right.

    I found a very interesting little book, _Instant Weather Forecasting_ by Alan Watts (not Allan Watts, the late British-American popularizer of Eastern philosophies). The book is composed mostly of 24 full-page color photographs of the sky under different weather conditions, with a facing page explanation of what’s going on and what to expect in the next few hours. Fair warning: you’re only able to instantly forecast the weather when you’ve learned all the concepts and strategems Watts has to teach you.

    1. Anthony,An incredibly informative and definitely cool book by the Guru of Clouds-Gavin Preter-Pinney called”The Cloud Spotter’s Guide:The Science,History & Culture of Clouds” would be right up the alley of any Joni Mitchell fan.Check it out !.Sam

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