Punxsutawney Phil, the Groundhog who possesses the most famous shadow in the world, emerged from his burrow at 7:25 this morning stretched his little paws to the sky and looked behind him. There, to the disappointment of the large crowd that gathers annually in this rustic hamlet, Phil glimpsed his spectre thus assuring us 6 more weeks of winter.
The Washington Post breathlessly reports:
If Phil's forecast is right, it signals a dramatic reversal from the mild weather pattern affecting much of the country. Many parts of the central and eastern U.S. have seen temperatures 20 to 30 degrees above normal in recent days. On February 1, just 19% of the Lower 48 had snow cover compared to 52% at this time last year.
Historic odds heavily favor a forecast for winter to last deep into March. Since the Groundhog's first prediction in 1887, Phil has seen his shadow 99 times and failed to spot it just 16 times. There are 9 missing years in the record, but Phil has issued an forecast without exception.
But just how accurate is the prognosticator of prognosticators?
The official website of Punxsutawney Phil, perhaps not impartial, claims the Groundhog has issued a correct forecast 100% of the time.
AccuWeather's grade for the groundhog's accuracy is slightly lower, but still quite respectable.
"Because the year's coldest quarter, also known as meteorological winter, runs from Dec. 5 to March 5, Phil's accuracy in predicting a longer winter is about 80 percent," AccuWeather wrote.
Phil would be a natural to take over as head scientist at the East Anglia Climate Research Institute where the hockey stick graph was born and where there are several scientists who seem a little confused about this global warming business. He would certainly restore some credibility to the institute and just think how cheap he'd work!
Perhaps the climate researches could develop a temperature model based on Phil's shadow. For some of the scientists there, it would be an upgrade as far as the kinds of evidence they gather to make their dire predictions about the destruction of civilization.