PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Thursday is Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his wooden stump and issue his shadow-dependent seasonal prediction to a winter weary public. But being that the nation’s most famous groundhog has no meteorological training, I set out to check the accuracy of our furry friend’s forecasts.
Born from a German tradition, Groundhog Day was adopted in the U.S. in 1887. Every year, February second is the day when Punxsutawney Phil determines whether or not our winter weariness will be relieved.
According to legend, if Phil emerges from his temporary home on Gobbler’s Knob, and sees his shadow, the United States will be subject to six more weeks of cold and snow.
But, if Phil doesn’t see his shadow, the country should expect warmer temperatures and thus the arrival of an early spring.
In analyzing Phil’s historical record, kept by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, it appears he has a bit of winter bias.
As of 2016, Phil has fled from his own shadow 102 times, yielding a forecast of ‘six more weeks of winter,” nearly 80 percent of the time. On only 18 occasions has Phil foretold an “early spring.”
So just how accurate are these prognostications issued by the weather watching woodchuck?
The National Climatic Data Center, describes Phil’s predictions as “on average, inaccurate.”
According to Stormfax, the Pennsylvania-based marmot may want to consider a new day job, as his predictions have been correct only 39 percent of the time.
In addition to Phil, there are a plethora of prognosticating rodents including Chesapeake Chuck in Newport News, Virginia, Flatiron Freddy in Boulder, Colorado and Nibbles in Asheville, North Carolina. No word yet on their forecasting ability.