How Accurate Is Punxsutawney Phil’s Groundhog Day Predictions?

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Groundhog Day 2017 is today, and no doubt many of you will be wondering whether Punxsutawney Phil will be predicting an early spring or a longer winter. Well, he did see his shadow today, so it would appear that Phil has made his prediction for 2017.  

Legend has it that when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on February 2nd, it it is cloudy, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, predicting six more weeks of chilly winter. But how accurate is this prediction really? A look back at records suggest not much at all!

Groundhog Day dates all the way back to 1887 when Clymer H. Freas, city editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit, began promoting Punxsutawney’s groundhog as the official Groundhog Day meteorologist. Records have been kept fairly regularly since the tradition began showing the ground-dweller’s predictions. However, the National Climactic Data Center (NCDC) has also been keeping its records quite closely, and the results might disappoint Punxsutawney fans.

According to the NCDC the data “shows no predictive skill for the groundhog during the most recent years of this analysis. Since 1993, the U.S. national temperature has been above normal 11 times in February, 12 times in March, below normal 6 times in February, 3 times in March, and near normal 3 times in February and 5 times in March.”

According to Stormfax, Punxsutawney Phil has been correct only 39 percent of the time since the first recorded Groundhog Day in 1887.

We still love you Phil.

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