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Just how accurate is Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast?

If the groundhog sees his shadow, we could see six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, we can...
If the groundhog sees his shadow, we could see six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, we can expect to see an early spring.(KNOE)
Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 5:10 PM CST
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Happy Groundhog Day! On February 2, at 6 AM EST, Punxsutawney Phil will crawl out of his den and look for his shadow. According to folklore, if Phil sees his shadow and ducks back into his cave we can expect to see six more weeks of winter. If Phil doesn’t see his shadow, we can expect an early spring. But just how accurate can a 20 lbs rodent’s forecast be? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration took the time to compare Phil’s prediction to the actual climate data all the way back to the first Groundhog Day in 1887.

In his many years of forecasting, the prognosticating groundhog has seen his shadow a total of 105 times and didn’t see his shadow a total of 20 times, with 10 years where we have no record of his prediction. Last year, Phil forecast a “longer winter” when he saw his shadow and predicted an additional six weeks of winter. If we think back to February 2021, record-breaking cold was experienced across the United States as we saw the coldest February since 1989. Here in the ArkLaMiss, we sat below freezing for a total of 141 hours from 5 PM February 13 through 2 PM February 19, setting an all-time record. But for March 2021, the continental United States saw an average temperature about 4°F above our 20th-century average. So, all in all, Phil was halfway correct in his prediction.

Punxsutawney Phil has been right 40% of the time in the last ten years. Take into the fact that he has been predicting more early springs that line up with the warming trend we’ve seen in global temperatures over the last few years. This year the forecast is looking cloudy in Punxsutawney, PA, with a slight chance of rain in the morning, so the likelihood of Phil seeing his shadow is looking slim. Here’s hoping for an early spring!

Check out all of Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions since 1886 here.

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