The shadow knows: Furry forecaster Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring

 

Matthew Diebel, USATODAY 5:22 p.m. EST February 2, 2016

The 130th Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania was a giant party with good news for warm weather fans. Phil the groundhog predicted an early spring. VPC
Groundhog Day

(Photo: Keith Srakocic, AP)

Get ready for an early spring. At least, that’s what Punxsutawney Phil says.

The weather-predicting groundhog did not see his shadow as he emerged from his burrow in western Pennsylvania at sunrise Tuesday, thus indicating springlike conditions sooner rather than later. Had he seen his shadow, legend has it, at least another six weeks of wintry weather would be in store.

Members of the top hat-wearing Groundhog Day Inner Circle announced the forecast just before 7:30 a.m.
Groundhog Club co-handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil during the Groundhog Day celebration at Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. The weather-prognosticating groundhog emerged from his burrow and predicted an early spring. David Maxwell, European Pressphoto Agency

“Take your jackets off,” shouted the announcer in the small town that has staged the ceremony for 130 years as he announced Phil’s cheery projection.

That said, flipping a coin is pretty much as accurate as Phil. Since 1988, the furry forecaster has been “right” 13 times and “wrong” 15 times, as to whether the USA’s temperature would be warmer or cooler than average in February.

And of the last 8 times that Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, he was “right” 5 times and “wrong” 3 times.

Based on past weather data, “there is no predictive skill for the groundhog during the most recent years of the analysis,” according to a report released Friday by the National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, N.C.

According to the Associated Press, a German legend says if a furry rodent sees his shadow Feb. 2, winter will last another six weeks. If not, spring comes early.

In reality, the AP reported, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler’s Knob, a small hill located just outside the town for which he’s named about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Records going back to 1887 show Phil has predicted a longer winter 102 times and an early spring just 18 times. There are no records for the remaining years.

Meanwhile, in Staten Island, N.Y., the borough’s own version of the Pennsylvania prognosticator, Staten Island Chuck, agreed with his fellow forecaster. According to the Staten Island Advance newspaper, Chuck crawled out of his burrow at the same time in search for his shadow, to no avail. Chuck made his prediction at the Staten Island Zoo.

 

 

Posted in Environment, General.