Groundhog Day

February 2nd, 2013 at 12:00 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

First, check out what happened two years ago today!  Here’s more on the Groundhog Day Blizzard, and the Wikipedia Article on the Storm.   Feb. 2 is Groundhog Day. Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow this morning, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, winter is pretty much over (which is really hardly ever the case on Feb. 2 in Michigan). It all began in Germany with hedgehogs and badgers. The Pennsylvania Dutch (who are really German) didn’t see any hedgehogs or badgers when they arrived in Pennsylvania, so they gave the prognosticating assignment to the local groundhog, or woodchuck (BTW, someone figured out how much wood a woodchuck could chuck). The most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil. Phil’s been giving us the long-range forecast from Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania since 1887.  Phil’s recent predictions are posted here. Phil correctly did predict six more weeks of winter last year on 2/2. Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter 100 of the last 114 years (inc. 2011). Feb. 2 is also Candlemas Day. An old saying goes: “Half the wood and half the hay, better have left on Candlemas Day”. Of course, that means that if you have half your winter provisions left at this point…you’ll make it through the winter.  Side note: You may have seen the movie Groundhog Day, with actor Bill Murray playing a TV weatherman (the movie was filmed mostly at Woodstock, Illinois – about 45 miles from where Bill Murray and I grew up – he lived about 3 blocks from me on Elmwood Ave.). Bill and I went to St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Wilmette, Illinois. We caddied together, though he caddied mostly at Indian Hill C.C. and I caddied mostly at Westmoreland C.C. He’s one year older than me.  Here’s a review of the movie “Groundhog Day”.   This thread was moved up from last year, freshened up a bit, but the first 67 comments are from last year.

99 Responses to “Groundhog Day”

  1. Cassie - Kentwood says:

    Now I want to watch the movie! And I remember you telling me how cool of a guy Bill Murray is!

  2. Ned S. (Now in South Holland) says:

    So, do you have any contact with Bill Murray these days? Just curious. Thanks.

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      Nope, haven’t seen him since I was in high school. I do remember caddying with him. He caddied mostly at Indian Hill CC and I caddied mostly at Westmoreland. Caddying was quite an experience. We had some “old moneyed” people who knew how to act the part…and there were what I called the Jed Clampetts. They happened on some money and the kinfolk said go join the country club. Many of them were very kind people. The first man I caddied for couldn’t hear well, and he called everyone “Hermie”. I remember asking the other caddy with me if I was doing something wrong because he called me “Hermie”. The caddies could play the course Mondays from 7 AM to 1 PM when the course was “closed”. We did crazy stuff…like tee off from the 18th green and play the course backwards. One time I carried for one of the few golfers who would occasionally get mad and throw a club. Once he buried a 6-iron so deep in the mud I couldn’t get it out and the other caddy was in stitches while I was frantically trying to pry the club out of the ground. I’d occasionally caddy for a sweet, old lady in her 80s. She couldn’t hit the ball 75 yards, but she had me keep her score. I remember congratulating her on shooting a 242! I saw someone so intent on winning match that he swam to an island in a water hole to play his ball. The best golf I played was when I was 16 years old. I wish I’d have stuck with it a little more. I never took the game seriously. I went out to enjoy the weather, the trees, the birds and the outdoors. My mother knew Bill’s mother pretty well. You never would have picked Bill to be the most famous alumni of St. Joseph School.

  3. fixxxer says:

    Bill murray is awesome!


    1. Dan says:

      Yes, Bring on the first REAL Snow storm of the Spring season!
      Enjoy the weather, Fixxxer! It is all that you have! You cannot change it, why not enjoy it?

      1. fixxxer says:

        i am enjoying winter soo far dan, are you? because the pattern IS NOT going to change! ;)

  4. Tom L. says:

    LOL! Actually Bill, to many of us here in west Michigan, YOU are the most famous alumni from that school! :)

  5. That’s great stuff, well this year perhaps we have a case of winter confusion as its hard to have 6 more weeks of winter being we’ve not really had much winter at all. lol so I’m not sure what to hope for for those who want winter weather. If you want cold and snow “someone for goodness sakes” drive there, kidnap Phil and drive him off a cliff, hurry any takers. I have a suggestion but I’m going to be nice lol

  6. Linda ((Rockford)) says:

    Today is my 21st wedding anniversay. Every year we joke – will it be 6 more years of marriage, or is it over?

  7. Yup (Grandville) says:

    Those word press entries require a password Bill. Maybe it’s just me though :)

  8. KF (SE of Lowell) says:

    My son (who turns 10 today), woke up and looked outside hoping for another Ground Hog Day storm. He will never forget shoveling 16 inches of snow on his 9th birthday last year. I love the lack of snow this winter but my kids have been very disappointed. Glad that I don’t own a snowmobile!

  9. Steelie says:

    Good Day,

    As i look outside this morning, there would be no shadow with our cloud cover… hehe.

    Then again, six more weeks of what we have had so far, I can deal with that(sorry snow bunnies). ;-)


  10. Dan says:

    Great story here, Bill! Bill Murray is so funny! Ground Hog Day, The Movie is HILARIOUS!!! The same day over and over and over.
    Does the Phil see his shadow? I say, YES he does!

    1. fixxxer says:

      means nothing as it’s felt like spring half of the winter already!

  11. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

    Well, Bill always releases the winter forecast about 2 months before the first day of winter, so that means the spring/summer forecast should definitely be out soon. I’m anxious to read it.

    1. fixxxer says:

      i expect it around mid march although i guess it’s just for fun because look how fall & winter has turned out so far!

  12. RDJ says:

    Good morning Bill, could the ground hog wake someone in sports so I can found out if the wolverine is seeing the Hoosiers shadow or is it good?

  13. TA says:

    Bill did you go to New Trier or Loyola Academy? I am also a transplanted local from Wilmette, Illinois. Go Ramblers!

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      I went to New Trier (East) as did my mother. My great-great-grandfather moved to Winnetka shortly after the Civil War. We lived on Central Ave. and then on Spencer, across from Howard School.

  14. kevin. w says:

    All winter long the gfs has these fantasy storms that we keep chasing in the long range and by the time we get there it keeps pushing them farther along. If you think about it these storms that we keep chasing all winter is like trying to catch the end of the rainbow for all the gold(now last year was good winter). I personally think the Euro model has done very well this winter and will continue to do so. I think when this winter is over alot of the mets are going to have to go back and figure out what went wrong. Its just been an extremely difficult winter to predict. I still have respect for all mets because there is an awful lot to know (and still more) about the crazy weather and patterns that come about during each season. I see accuweather has an update ( to the rest of the winter forecast and can’t see why they even put it up as they were dead wrong on the entire winter forecast to begin with. I don’t know for the life of me how Phil could see his shadow with all those artificial lights around him, plus the darn sun hasn’t come up yet and the guys holding him up couldn’t identify a ufo for that matter. ;<))))

    1. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

      I can’t count how many times there’s been a thread title on here this winter saying the GFS was predicting very cold or very snowy and then nothing happens. The most recent one being the extremely cold air the GFS was forecasting to come on Saturday and keep us cold throughout early February.

      I don’t know the inner workings of each model, but you’re right, the GFS seems like garbage to me.

    2. SueM says:

      Kevin, I love reading your posts. Thank you for all of your great information!

  15. dano (Norton Shores) says:

    Trying to get winter back on track is sounding like a broken record from the NWS.

    For next week:
    “Upper flow flattens out behind that wave for midweek…so the cooldown will be brief…but the lingering Arctic vortex over northern Hudson Bay will tend to temper any warming trend. Another shot of potential snow/colder air appears likely at the tail end of the next work week.”

    1. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

      Yeah, I don’t get why they like to throw that in so much? Broken record is right. It’s always “it will be mild, but there’s a chance of cold air coming in right after our current forecast…” Strange. Sometimes I think they just like to keep us hooked. Been saying it for 2 months now.

      1. GunLakeDeb says:

        I think it’s called “KYAC” (keep your butt covered)

  16. Lori (Gowen) says:

    Just wondering what it looks like for the Feburary/March months? Are we going to stay on this weather pattern or will be see the switch flip and the cold/snow will push us into a late spring?

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      I’m going to do a post on this, probably later this evening…most years that are warm in both Dec. and Jan. continue the pattern in February.

      1. fixxxer says:

        you just broke poor rj’s heart billy! ;)

      2. SueM says:

        WOOHOO!! Let’s hope so! I’m loving this winter!

  17. INDY (WEST) says:

    People who really think a hog will tell the tale of winter have a few screws loose hogday is just a nother money maker or a day on the calendar or a so called a holiday! Even the movie was not that good …Weather the snow storm has not been bad yet. Winter has a lot longer togo and we are in trouble now spring is going to be cold thanks to a late start not on what a hog shows but how warm it has been to now ….. YARDOFWEST INDY-WEST…

    1. fixxxer says:

      doesn’t your family eat them?

      1. LM (GH twp) says:

        lol lol

  18. Bernie (at da lakeshore) says:

    I just learned a new word.

    For the first time since 1997 there might be an Elfstedentocht!


    1. Yup (Grandville) says:

      Yeah, what a sight that must be!

    2. GunLakeDeb says:

      Wow – it’s been that long?? (I had to look up the word!)

  19. winter wonderland? says:

    Since the groundhog saw his shadow, I re-read your 2011-12 winter forecast. Do you still feel like we will get 89 inches of snow (hopefully not rain), a ski pass and snow plow service are good ideas or that a significant snow event will ever happen this winter?

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      No, persistence has been the best forecasting tool lately. The overall pattern of mild and dry weather, with occasional 2-day shots of colder air. I just looked thru the data for warm DEC/JAN periods and most of those years had the mild weather continuing through February. We’ll get more snow…more snow in March this year than last..but we’re not going to reach 89″.

      1. fixxxer says:

        kinda early to call what late feb and march will bring don’t you think bill? i assume this winter has been a nightmare for you guys to forecast accurately.

      2. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

        I will still stick to my early snow fall guess of between 40 and 50″ for GR. That is subject to change of course. But I also feel that we stand a chance of several snow storms yet this winter. Remember it dose not have to be all that cold to snow and I think what we see now, we may still see come March and into early April.
        As for a long range guess??? well you seen how this past winters guess came out. That means as much as we think we know about weather patterns there is still much more we do not know.

        1. fixxxer says:

          stop thinking soo negative slim, there is no indication that snow will increase in march & april.

        2. GunLakeDeb says:

          Let’s not forget that Lake Michigan is more than prepared to give us lots of LE snow – should things actually set up that way. My totally-untrained sense of this winter is that we’ll get some blasts of snow – then it will all melt again.

        3. fixxxer says:

          gun thats exactly what will continue. short durations of cold & snow followed by warm ups enough to melt it all. good news is if this keeps up when spring does get here we wont have to look at huge piles of black snow on the curbs. BRING ON AN EARLY SPRING BILLY!

      3. winter wonderland? says:

        is there hope for a “snow day” in late February or March?

        1. Bill Steffen says:

          Yes, there is hope. This is the 2nd warmest winter ever in G.R. so far. The warmest winter was 1931-32. In that year MARCH was the coldest and by far the snowiest month of the year. They had more snow after March 1 than they had before March 1.

  20. fixxxer says:

    i knew michigan ranked high in the most cloudiest states in the US but come on give us some sun for a change.

    oh yeah and groundhogs days means jack squat!

    1. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

      According to this, Grand Rapids is the cloudiest city in the midwest:

      1. fixxxer says:

        after being here for 5 years i agree with this. more proof that lake is PITA!

      2. GunLakeDeb says:

        My sis moved to California to escape what she calls “The Grand Rapids Permacloud”. Not that her ever-gloomy morning “Marine Layer” is anything to crow about….

        1. fixxxer says:

          cali has smog.

    2. Dan says:

      Winter is NOT over yet, Fixxxer! I bet one, maybe two more snow storms will happen before the season is all said and done!

      1. Swatz_Zoo(Cedar Springs) says:

        I will have to agree on Dan with this one. I keep going back to the February blizzard and then March ice storm, mother nature has a few things up her sleeve.

        1. Jennifer K (NE GR) says:

          I don’t think this year is going to be anything like last year. We are warmer this year than last for one thing. Maybe I am just hoping for good weather for when I go out to Vegas in April. I have never flown before and will be doing so for the first time!

        2. GunLakeDeb says:

          Jennifer – I HATE to fly – but that path is usually pretty “calm”. You get a few bumps going over the Rockies (and landing in Chicago, if that’s your route) – but the rest is pretty smooth. Hope you see the Grand Canyon – it’s pretty cool even from that high up!

        3. Swatz_Zoo(Cedar Springs) says:

          Red Rocky Canyon is GORGEOUS, I absolutely HATE, HATE flying as well, but Deb is right it’s pretty smooth especially coming back if you hit a jet stream the wind helps push the plane that much faster home. If you LOVE music, you have to go see the Blue Man Group, OMG it just kicks A–! I didn’t care for downtown and the guys handing out coupons to certain places or “escorts” when a man is there walking with his family and kids in his arms and wife next to him practically shoving them into his hand. But it is gorgeous at night, especially to fly in at night. It amazed me of all the planes landing back/back. We took Allegent, it was a straight shot there without layovers. Good luck and have fun!

      2. storm waning says:

        What ever happens – in frozen form – will quickly, quickly, quickly, melt. That has been, is, and will continue to be the pattern. Especially at this stage of the season. There is no hang time for the snow on the ground anymore….. Winter – in the real sense of the word is OVER….. it also never got off the ground.

        There are TWO views on winter…. TWO competing philosophies…. total snow fall amount and actual use of the the fallen snow. For many people winter is winter when snow arrives and STAYS.

        By this definition we had NO winter

        1. RJ (Rockford) says:

          Very good point, because this had been an absolutely horrible winter sports season. Just dreadful and this was after every single so called expert predicted above normal snowfall. Just ridiculous!

      3. fixxxer says:

        well danny winter NEVER started so i disagree with you.

        1. fixxxer says:

          but i know you, indy and rj the “biggest winter trolls” on here will keep your fingers crossed.

        2. Dan says:

          The season definitely made it here, Fixxxer. What we haven’t had are the prolonged stretches of cold weather and the snow!
          You better watch out, we may get snow in the late part of the season. It could happen!
          Also, I’m not a troll. I’m a weather, especially a winter weather, junkie!
          What are you Fixxxer, a crystal ball watcher?

  21. kevin. w says:

    Latest GFS model has it in the 20s (cold bias) in Indianapolis on the 12th and the latest Euro has it in the upper 50s at the same place. Thats why these teleconnections here ( have been so out of wake this winter it has been very hard to forecast past 5-7 days. But I’m going with the milder Euro as it has done the best out of any model out there and still think it will. The GFS past 240hr always goes to the colder side and over amplifies the pattern and thats why it really can’t be trusted. If (you have to pay for the pro Euro model) you look at the euro weeklies, monthlies and the data it shows, it has a very good track record. Not saying winter is done but I’m saying that the real arctic air is done. So if we do get a snowstorm it will end up turning warm a few days after it passes as all the arctic air is on the other side of the globe and these storms can’t reach far enough to crab the arctic to tug down. Will be interesting to see what Bill has to say tonight.

  22. storm waning says:

    Today’s forecast title at WOOD describes 80% of this winter… Mild Stretch Continues

    1. fixxxer says:

      60 more days or less and this crap is officially done!

      1. GunLakeDeb says:

        Don’t taunt Mother Nature – or:

        “The snow on Easter
        Will be up to your keister!”

        1. RJ (Rockford) says:

          Yes, snow on Easter. We can only hope. BRING IT ON!!

  23. Soccer6713 says:

    I’m sort of glad the groundhog saw his shadow today. Six more weeks of the winter we have had so far is fine with me:)

  24. RJ (Rockford) says:

    Six more weeks of this garbage and we as well say there was not a winter season at all!

    1. Skot says:

      T-shirts anyone? “I survived the Michigan Winter of 11-12″ With Bill’s face on it. 20 $ P.O BOX Wyoming, MI Attn. Fixxxer.

  25. Jeff (Portland) says:

    Yep, i remember the Ground Hog Day Blizzard two years ago. It fell on our wedding anniversary. That was an awesome present from mother nature. ;)

  26. Irish coffee says:

    Happy Groundhog storm anniversary!…My boys’ fav actor is Bill Murray- but “What about Bob” is their favorite Murray movie..and movie period..they even have “DON’T HASSLE ME, I’M LOCAL” T-shirts that they ordered online a couple yrs back ;) Here’s to 6+ PLUS!!! more WEEKS of winter!! CHEERS

    1. Katie in Kentwood says:

      I loved What About Bob!! I also saw Bill Murray on American Chopper and he was really rude, hope he’s not like that all the time..

      1. Jack says:

        I 2 Loved What about BOB !!!! Especially when BOB IS SAILING…CUE: Sutherland Brothers Band -Sailing [Original Version - Stereo] (1972 …

        ► 2:39► 2:39
        IM SAILING…. LOL…Enjoy… ;-)

  27. Todd A (from Holland, in GR) says:

    Our son was born about 6 hours before the blizzard 2 years ago. The 3rd shift nurses had to hold over on Wednesday morning, because so many nurses couldn’t get through the drifts on the roads to make it to the hospital. It was great to not have to drive in that mess for a few days!

  28. INDY says:


    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Bring it INDY. More SNOW and COLD coming this weekend and all of next week!!!

  29. Michele L says:

    Indy~did you have Uncle Sparks measure the snow at the Yard???

    1. INDY says:


  30. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

    Its 17° here with light snow falling had a good 7.5″ of new snow here last night (from 5PM to 8:30 AM) and now have around 13″ on the ground. Its a good thing its light and fluffy lake effect snow otherwise some people would not be going anywhere today. I shoveled the drive way (with a shovel) in around 20 minutest I am glad it was not heavy snow as it would have taken much longer and I would have broken it into smaller increments.

  31. INDY says:


    1. Thine olde English art refreshing INDY – keepest thou the snow machine going.

    2. Kyle says:

      Did you stop and watch the OTC band?

      1. INDY says:

        Yes they sounded good loud!!! INDYY…

  32. Southwest KENT says:

    9.75 inches here just lastnight!! Byron Center.

  33. 9 inches of snow on the deck rail – 22 degrees – still snowing – wheeee!

  34. Meagan says:

    But did the groundhog see his shadow today?

    1. he couldn’t burrow out of his snow bank

  35. Uncle sparkee says:

    Your ol aunty Edna makes the best ground hog stew this side of the pine river. My ground hog hat is warmer than my raccoon hat . Tokes the blood hound like to chew on their tales. It’s like a venison hot stick to you and me. Bout a foot of snow in the back woods!

    1. side by side groundhog stew stands far above possum any day…:)

  36. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

    Well with all of the new snow on the ground at least it wont stay long as spring is around the corner (so says the ground hog)

    So enjoy the snow while its here (for those who like snow) and for the ones who do not like the snow the good old ground hog says it will soon be gone.
    Almost as good as the models have been this winter

    1. Meagan says:

      Thanks SlimJim. ;-)

  37. Bobby (Ada) says:

    11.5 inches here in Ada/Cascade since 8pm last night!! The 4×4 on the good ole’ Jeep sure liked being used for the first time this year! A little lull in the action right now, but Bring on the next round!!!!

  38. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

    How about instead of many proclaiming and taunting “the snow will melt”, we enjoy it while it is here? More snow coming this week!

    1. fixxxer says:

      yeah because seeing all of this snow is exciting! “rolls eyes”

    2. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      100% agree Matt. Besides very little snow will be melting all of next week, in fact we will be seeing a lot MORE FRESH SNOW NEXT WEEK!!! You will always have naysayers, whiners and complainers that can not face reality. We are in a COLD and SNOWY pattern. Get used to it people!!!!!!

      1. SW Kent says:

        Correct Rocky, this is a great snow pattern if you like snow like I do.
        This snow will be quick to settle though, so the 15 inches I have on the ground in Byron Center will be about 8 inches come Wednesday, even with a couple more inches tomorrow.
        Did you ever buy me lunch?

        1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

          I had some snow left on the ground out in my back yard in woods!

  39. ~Sherry~(Comstock Park) says:

    We have a good 8 inches out there this morning!! Looks beautiful!! When is the next round supposed to start??

  40. Paul (Barry State Game Area/eastern Yankee Springs Twp) says:

    Only 4″ the past 24 hrs here, 5.5″-6″ on the ground here.

    Gun Lake Deb….Curious to see how much snow you got there…think you’re 6 or 7 miles sw of me…

    1. GunLakeDeb says:

      There was about 6-7″ of fresh snow in the driveway this morning :-)
      I’m a happy girl about that!!!!

  41. SW Kent says:

    Enjoy the wonderful winter weather out there….looks like a great 6 days or so.
    Another major meltdown coming next weekend.

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