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Warm Spring, Chilly Political Climate: Groundhog’s Day in DC

“Potomac Phil” the Groundhog sees no shadow

On Saturday, February 2nd, “Potomac Phil” – the D.C. local stuffed groundhog – emerged in Dupont Circle to look for his shadow. He searched, but did not find – giving us an early end to winter, and a premature spring.

But how can there be an early spring if there was no winter?

The warmest year on record

2012 was the warmest year in Washington DC since temperatures were first recorded in 1871. This included a record-breaking heat wave, an unprecedented hurricane-force storm, and an uncommonly warm winter. The year 2012 averaged 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the previous warmest year – not an insignificant difference. Did Phil consider that before he roamed around Dupont, shadow-free and carefree?

Maybe Potomac Phil went into an early hibernation when Hurricane Sandy came through. Hopefully, the tropical storm force winds didn’t blow away his home.

Maybe he noticed the premature budding of cherry blossoms last week, or heard the mosquitos buzzing around in the 70-degree weather.  Possibly, he heard of the predicted boom in stink bugs this upcoming spring.

Phil’s Political Predictions

This being Washington, Potomac Phil also made political predictions. And he predicted “six more weeks/months of political gridlock.” Thanks, Phil. With the political gridlock, the possibility of passing climate change legislation is even more unlikely – meaning warm winters and early springs may become more common.

Will Potomac Phil ever see his shadow again? What will happen if Groundhog’s Day becomes inconsequential – will Phil wither away into irrelevancy?

But after all, Potomac Phil is just a stuffed version of his Philadelphian-native brother, “Punxsutawney Phil.” He doesn’t have to worry too much about the effects of climate change. For the rest of Washington, his prediction is disquieting.

This is where the DC EcoWomen come in.

How will the Groundhog’s Day prediction affect your consumer habits?


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