Groundhog prediction: Six more weeks of winter

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Punxsutawney, PA, United States (4E) – Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter, the groundhog’s handlers said on Sunday.

The president of the Inner Circle, the groundhog club whose members wear top hats and black frock coats, brought the animal out from its burrow to a cheering crowd during the traditional Groundhound Day at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney and announced the forecast at 7:25 a.m. ET. Punxsutawney is a small town 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Based on folklore, if Phil leaves its burrow in a cloudy day, the forecast is that winter will soon end. But if Phil sees its shadow and returns to the burrow, there will be six more weeks of winter.

Groundhog Day started as a superstition in 1887 and the animal supposedly saw its shadow 100 times since then. It also predicted early spring 17 times.

Phil’s website claims its forecast is 100 percent accurate. AccuWeather gives it an 80 percent accuracy rate. For the latest forecast, AccuWeather, however, disagrees and sees a 50/50 split in winter and spring conditions with the U.S. North remaining wintry until March and the South experiencing spring around the same month.

The NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center said the groundhog’s prediction as well as the animal’s versions in other states is on average inaccurate. The center based in Asheville, North Carolina said its prediction was right 10 times and wrong 15 times from 1988 to 2012. Last year, it predicted early spring but bitter cold and snow affected the eastern U.S. until March.

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