Groundhog Day 2012 Prediction: Is Punxsutawney Phil Right About Winter?

  @julia_greenberg on February 02 2012 12:09 PM
Punxsutawney Phil
Punxsuntanwney Phil saw his shadow, predicting there will be six more weeks of winter before spring arrives. Reuters

Early Wednesday morning, Punxsutawney Phil crawled out of a hole on Gobbler's Knob, stretched, looked around, and, seeing his shadow, headed right back underground. According to legend, Phil's predicts there will be six more weeks of winter before spring arrives, but is the Groundhog Day 2012 prediction right?

Most meteorologists would say, no.

There seems to be no correlation between Phil's predictions and the actual weather forecasts, reports the National Climatic Data Center. In fact, Phil seems to be wrong more often than right. Phil's prognostications have only been correct 39 percent of the time, a low success rate for a supposed weather oracle.

Punxsutawney Phil is a punk when it comes to weather forecasting, meteorologist Tim McGill wrote on the Chicago Weather Center blog. We might as well ask a giraffe for stock picks, he could probably be just as accurate.

Phil (and his ancestors) has been predicting the weather forecast in Punxsutawney, Penn. since 1887. In nearly 125 years of weather forecasting, Phil has seen his shadow one hundred times, but has only predicted an early spring 16 times. Nine years during the period were not recorded.

In an analysis of temperatures across the U.S. from 1988 to 2011, the National Climatic Data Center has found that Phil has no predictive skills.

In fact, although Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter for 17 of the 34 years since 1988, U.S. national temperature records indicate that weather in February has been above normal for 15 of those 34 years. Phil's predictive powers seem to be no more reliable than a random guess.

It really isn't a 'bright' idea, the National Climatic Data Center states, to take a measure such as a groundhog's shadow and use it as a predictive meteorological tool for the entire United States.

However, the select group of caretakers, known as Phil's Inner Circle, disagrees with weather records and meteorologists. Members of the Inner Circle wear top hats and tuxedos to celebrate Groundhog Day each year on February 2nd when Phil comes out from his hole.

I would argue with the comments he doesn't have a great track record, Jon Johnston, Phil's Chief Healthman told ABCNews.com. They're missing the point then. It's always winter somewhere.

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