Groundhog day predictions are looked at with scrutiny. The big question is whether the furry rodent’s prediction is right or wrong. When the groundhog emerged today at approximately 7:25 AM, he saw his shadow. That means six more weeks of winter. Had he not seen it, spring would come early this year. The prediction is both right and wrong.
The winter of 2013-2014 has been harsh in many parts of the U.S. Chicago, Boston and New york have been hit with big storms. Michigan saw record snowfall for the month of January and has been subjected to extended periods of below zero temperatures. Atlanta was recently paralyzed when it was hit with a snow and ice storm. The groundhog day prediction does not show an end in sight for the unrelenting cold and snow.
Feb. 2 is significant because it marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Since 1887 groundhogs have been used in ceremonies around the country to decide if there will be a longer winter or an early spring. The decision is supposedly based on whether the animal sees his shadow. The idea began with a news editor who started with a story about a groundhog hunt and embellished it over the years.
While several other states hold ceremonies and use other groundhogs to make the weather predictions, Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania is the most famous. Ohio, West Virginia, Georgia, Wisconsin, Alabama, North Carolina, and New York all have their own furry forecasters, each with their own home-town celebrations.
Approximately 20,000 annual visitors attend the event at Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania to find out if the groundhog sees his shadow or not. This year he disappointed the crowd with his news that winter will continue on. His predictions aren’t always accurate, however. The National Climate Data Center does not always agree with his predictions. He has only been accurate 10 times between 1988 and 2012. The record shows that he has made 100 predictions of more winter and only 17 predictions of an early spring.
Last year Phil predicted an early spring on groundhog day, but that was both right and wrong. His predictions received a lot of criticism because it ended up being a warmer February, but a cooler than usual March, which ended up being below the national average.
Whether the prediction is correct depends on which part of the U.S. is being evaluated. The weather for those in the north is expected to remain cold longer, while those in the southern states can expect a warmup in the coming weeks, according to AccuWeather. NOAA agrees with this weather pattern. They call for a 50/50 split on the states that will get an early spring and those who will have a lingering winter.
The real answer is not determined by a groundhog though. A group of people called the Inner Circle meet before the actual ceremony that takes place on groundhog day to make the prediction. Though the celebrations are mostly a fun mid-winter celebration, the group is responsible for making the predictions, both right and wrong.
By Tracy Rose