NYC mayor: Others are 'more adept' at handling groundhogs

Lucy Bush
February 4, 2018

Phil's forecast prediction of six more weeks of winter did not pan out when he saw his shadow, meaning six more weeks of winter. If Phil doesn't see his shadow, and early spring can be expected.

Punxsutawney Phil is set to come out of his burrow at 7:25 Gobbler's Knob.

The town's annual Groundhog Day event, made more popular by the 1993 comedy film Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray, draws people from as far away as Australia and Russian Federation. "The trend is your friend", said Matthew Rosencrans, head of forecasting operations at the government's Climate Prediction Center. That means he was wrong 16 times, including past year. If there are not enough cold snaps or freezing temperatures to reduce the plague, then this just becomes a bigger issue (at times lethal) in the spring, especially with airborne diseases such as Zika.

As a broadcast meteorologist, however, I should point out that Phil and his handlers don't seem to play by the rule book.

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It also says Phil's predictions are 100 percent accurate when in reality his success rate has only been 20 percent in the last 30 years. But if there is no shadow, spring will make an early arrival. Chuck and the crew at WMRN-AM have been offering weather forecasts on Groundhog Day since the 1970s.

But right now the computer models that are so successful in shorter ranges are out of their depths beyond about 10 days.

The four-legged creature only has a 39 percent accuracy, according to Stormfax Almanac's data.

Although groundhogs have an average lifespan of six to eight years, it's still fun to believe Phil has discovered the key to living a long and healthy life.

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Anyone originally from a frigid winter state knows all about the fuss over Groundhog Day, the annual February 2 ritual.

The 132-year-old tradition is held every February 2, and was once a Christian holiday involving candles called Candlemas Day.

So far, Potomac Phil's predictions have always agreed with those of his more famous counterpart, Punxsutawney Phil.

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