So Long, Punxsutawney Phil. Hello, Springcasting.

January 31, 2018 01:41 PM

If you expect spring 2018 to arrive on Tuesday, March 20, guess again. While that’s the official date, a new web tool called Springcasting can tell you when Mother Nature says spring will arrive—and the tool can tell you that piece of information up to a full year in advance.

The tool, developed in collaboration between Cornell University and researcher Mark Schwartz, at the University of Wisconsin, identifies key spring indicators, such as when honeysuckle and lilac flowers burst from their buds, to make the forecast.

This year, Toby Ault, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Cornell, and his colleagues aim to predict spring onset for all regions in the U.S. months in advance. Current forecasts predict much of the West, Southwest and parts of the Southeast will have an early spring, Ault reports in a news release.

Farmers and natural resource managers, for example, could use the spring outlooks to make critical decisions about allocating assets on long lead-time horizons, the release states. “The climate is changing, and the onset of spring impacts agriculture, orchards, insects, migrating birds, pollinators, quite literally an entire suite of ecosystem responses. We’re trying to get a heads-up a season ahead of what to expect each year,” Ault says.

The new tool’s map of the continental U.S. shows in color where spring will be early, late or right on time. Updated forecasts will be issued Jan. 31, Feb. 15, Feb. 28, March 15 and March 31 for this spring. Go to to learn more.

Ault is collecting feedback on the site at “To improve the models, we want to hear from people out in the field and on the farms,” he says.


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