Breaking: Punxsutawney Phil’s Groundhog Day forecast

Punxsutawney Phil, the chubby rodent meteorologist from Gobbler’s Knob,  made his  official weather forecast for the rest of the season this morning with a prediction for six more weeks of winter.

In lore that goes back 130 years, if Phil emerges from his hole (fake tree stump) and sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of cold weather, while no shadow means an early spring.

This morning, he saw his shadow, or at least told the  man holding the magic stick that allows him to speak “groundhogease” that he did.

Related: Top 10 weather movies of all time 

capture

Phil predicts six more weeks of winter on Feb. 2, 2017

While festivities began pre-dawn and a live broadcast turned on at 6 a.m., it wasn’t until sunrise that Phil’s expert prediction was made.

The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a warmer than normal February for most of the U.S. That warmth will continue for Florida and much of the South through to New England into April.

A weak La Nina, which is expected to dissipate this month, was expected to bring a mild, dry winter to Florida. Despite two cold snaps, South Florida is still having an unusually warm winter, ranking 10th recently for the warmest on record.

So how accurate is Phil? Several computer whizzes have done the calculations.

Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather predicting groundhog, during annual Groundhog Day festivities Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Punxsutawney, Pa. The Groundhog Club claimed that Phil did not see his shadow and predicted that winter has ended on Groundhog Day. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil during annual Groundhog Day festivities Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Punxsutawney, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

According to a 2015 analysis by The Washington Post of 30 years of forecasts at more than 200 cities, Phil was “technically right more times than not in some cities.”

“Even though Phil’s predictions proved correct for some areas of the country, the difference in average temperatures between years he predicted an early spring and years he did not varied by no more than a few degrees,” The Post found.

Washington Post 2015 analysis of forecast accuracy for Punxsatawney Phil

Washington Post 2015 analysis of forecast accuracy for Punxsutawney Phil

The National Centers for Environmental Information also released a report this week that looked at February and March temperatures compared to Phil’s past forecasts.

What the number crunching found was “no predictive skill for the groundhog during the most recent years of this analysis.” 

capture

We’ll keep you updated live via Twitter and the WeatherPlus Blog about Phil’s forecast.

Here are some fun facts until then from the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club:

1. Yes, Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just imposters.

2. There has been only one Punxsutawney Phil. Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking “groundhog punch” (a secret recipe). One sip, which is administered every summer at the Groundhog Picnic, gives him seven more years of life.

3. On February 2nd, Phil comes out of his burrow on Gobbler’s Knob, in front of thousands of faithful followers from all over the world, to predict the weather for the rest of the winter.

4. According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

5. No, Punxsutawney Phil’s forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle. After Phil emerges from his burrow on February 2nd, he speaks to the Groundhog Club President in Groundhogese. His proclamation is then translated for the world.

6. The celebration of Groundhog Day began with the Germans, Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states “For as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May…”. The settlers found that groundhogs were plentiful and were the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day.

7. Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800’s. The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob made on February 2nd, 1887.

Reader Comments 0

0 comments