Well, the groundhog has spoken, so it’s official: Six more weeks of winter, according to Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most famous weather-prognosticating groundhog.
The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle – a group that organizes the event and cares for Phil – brought Punxsutawney Phil out of his den in front of a large crowd as cameras beamed his image around the world.
The group reported that Phil communicated in “groundhogese” that he saw his shadow, meaning we’ll see at least a month and a half more of miserable cold and snow.
So how much can we trust Phil’s forecast?
Unfortunately, based on weather data, “there is no predictive skill for the groundhog during the most recent years of the analysis,” according to a report last year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In fact, on average, Phil has gotten it right only 40% of the time over the past 10 years.
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Last year, Phil forecast a “long winter” when he saw his shadow and predicted an additional six weeks of wintry temperatures, according to NOAA. In fact, the contiguous United States saw below-average temperatures in February and above-average temperatures in March.
So Phil was 50/50 on his forecast in 2021.
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This year, the official forecast for the U.S. for the rest of February is for milder-than-average weather across the southern and eastern U.S. and cooler-than-average weather in the northwestern part of the country.
Though Groundhog Day is just some midwinter fun, climate records say winter probably isn’t over, according to NOAA. Climatologically speaking, the three coldest months of the year in the U.S. are December, January and February, so winter typically still has a ways to go when the groundhog comes out Feb. 2.
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This is the 136th year Phil has made his prediction.
Although Phil is the most famous hog, other furry forecasters include West Virginia’s French Creek Freddie, Georgia’s Gen. Beauregard Lee, Ohio’s Buckeye Chuck, North Carolina’s Sir Walter Wally, Louisiana’s Cajun Groundhog, Alabama’s Smith Lake Jake, Wisconsin’s Jimmy and New York’s Staten Island Chuck (full name: Charles G. Hogg).
Groundhog Day’s origins lie in an ancient European celebration of Candlemas, a point midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox – the exact midpoint of astronomical winter.
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Superstition has it that fair weather predicted a stormy and cold second half to winter, as noted in this Old English saying:
“If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.”
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort