Did the Groundhog See His Shadow? 6 More Weeks of Winter

Did the Groundhog See His ShadowYes, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow which means 6 more weeks of winter. The forecast from Punxsutawney Phil at the annual ceremony of Groundhog Day 2012, “Many shadows do I see: six more weeks of winter it must be.”

Thousands of people that were gathered for the annual groundhog day event groaned when Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. An event that has some 15,000 to 18,000 people there to witness the furry creature’s prognostication ceremony at 7:30 a.m. EST. When the groundhog came from his burrow at dawn, it was only near freezing, which is above average for this time of year in Pennsylvania. Usually, the temperature is around 17 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle, Phil has seen his shadow 100 times and hasn’t seen it 16 times since 1886. In Groundhog Club’s records, Phil has predicted 99 long winters and 15 early springs, with nine years of records lost. Those predictions have been right only 39 percent of the time — 36 percent if you look at post-1969 predictions, when weather records are more accurate.

Tim Roche, a meteorologist at Weather Underground said, “If Punxsutawney Phil is right 39 percent of the time, that’s much, much worse than a climatological prediction. Even if you flip a coin, you’ll still be right close to half of the time. That’s a 50 percent accuracy rate. So you’ll be better off flipping a coin than going by the groundhog’s predictions.”

Still tradition lives on with Groundhogs day and Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow every February 2 on the Christian holiday, Candlemas Day. All to celebrate a German superstition about hibernating animals casting shadows to predict winter.

Yet some people hold strong opinions about groundhog day. From WGN meteorologist Tim McGill on the Chicago Weather Center blog, “Should be good fun but still, meteorologists and weathermen everywhere shun the hoopla surrounding February 2nd. We are expected to act as the groundhog’s spokesperson and explain the archaic shenanigans of a bunch of old men with large top hats who enjoy pulling a rodent out his hole, thrusting him in the air and making proclamations about whether or not winter will continue. This will be my 26th Groundhog Day as a broadcast meteorologist so I have heard just about every joke there is regarding the day.”

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