From the ABC 7 Weather team

Groundhog Day 2014: What Will Phil Predict?

January 31, 2014 - 05:00 AM
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A popular rodent will get the spotlight this weekend. The 128th weather prediction from Groundhog Phil will be seen all across the U.S. on Groundhog Day 2014 this coming Sunday.

While there are so many sophisticated short-range and long-term forecast models that help meteorologists identify weather patterns to make predictions, one special forecaster gets his turn in the spotlight this weekend.

The annual Groundhog Day prediction from Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., is Sunday! This is when we find out if winter is history or Mother Nature will deal us six more weeks of cold and snow.

Groundhog Day has been a tradition in the U.S. since the 1800s (which is when weather records began as well). The date is always February 2 --- why you ask? That day is the midpoint between the winter solstice (shortest day of the year) and the spring equinox (a nice balance of 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness). The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., happened February 2, 1887.

Groundhog Day 2005 in Punxsutawney, Pa.

Germans brought groundhogs into Pennsylvania when they settled in the Keystone State. They saw how plentiful groundhogs were and decided the animal was intelligent and sensible enough to carry on Candlemas Day, a festival marking the midpoint of winter. The myth is… if the sun shines on that day, snow will swirl until May. So, if the groundhog sees his shadow when he is brought out of his burrow at 7:25 a.m. on Sunday, myth says there will be six more weeks of winter. If Phil doesn’t see his shadow, an early spring shall be near!

Phil predicted an early spring last year but didn’t necessarily nail that forecast for the U.S. This was the end result in February 2012; only the far Northern Tier and Southern Tier had above average temperatures while the remainder of the U.S. saw a typical late-winter temperature trend.

NOAA has even done research on Phil’s accuracy and the results aren’t so great either. Take a look. Remember, "Yes" under Shadow indicates Groundhog Phil predicted six more weeks of winter while "No" indicates an early spring.
Courtesy of NOAA

There is plenty of activities besides eagerly awaiting and watching Phil make his "prediction." Click here for a schedule of events for Sunday in Punsutawney, Pa. ABC7 will bring you Groundhog Phil’s prediction on Sunday!

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