The Superbowl & Groundhog Day

Día de la Marmota y el Súper Tazón

Feb 2, 2016

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This week brings two big weather-related events: Groundhog Day and The Super Bowl. Punxsutawney Phil, perhaps the best known of the groundhogs, has been making his prediction since 1887. When Phil does not see his shadow, legend has it that an early spring is on the way. But in over a hundred years, that has only happened 16 times! And whether or not he sees it, spring is coming earlier across the country as the planet warms from the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. For each market this week, we analyzed the average temperature for that six-week period that follows Groundhog Day.

Of the 16 times Phil has failed to see his shadow, 12 have been since 1970. And while Phil's recent actions probably don't correlate, according to a 2012 Climate Central report, the country has warmed 3 times faster since 1970 than over the last century as a whole. And according the 2014 National Climate Assessment, while the U.S. average temperature has increased about 1.5°F since record keeping began in 1895, most of this increase has occurred since about 1970.

In anticipation of the 50th Super Bowl, we examined football season (Sep-Dec) temperature trends in NFL cities over the past 50 years. Not surprisingly, all of those cities have warmed over that time. Charlotte has warmed 1.3° F, and Denver has warmed 1.1°F. But there is a wide range in the warming trends across the league, with Phoenix warming 5.1°F since the first Super Bowl, and San Diego only warming 0.1°F. The San Francisco Bay Area, where this year’s game is being played, is very close to the middle, warming 2.5°F. These temperature changes are calculated based on the rate of change calculated over those 50 years.

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