How Accurate Is the Groundhog at Predicting Weather Anyway?
Punxsatawney Phil, who resides in Pennsylvania, is part of American folklore and tradition. For decades, many have 'based' their winter-into-spring plans upon whether he sees his shadow on February 2nd. But just how accurate is he anyway?
We don't have a huge database to go off of, but according to mentalfloss.com, he's got the batting average of a lowly-rated baseball prospect.
The National Climatic Data Center, a branch of NOAA and other government weather and climate agencies, have been comparing (just for fun) Phil's predictions over the last 26 years, 27 if you count 2016.
He nailed it in 2014, which was pretty cool. After he saw his shadow, the country endured the 37th coldest February on record, pretty significant.
According to mentalfloss.com, here's the real skinny on the groundhog:
"Phil has predicted 100% correctly in only five of the 26 years the National Climatic Data Center analyzed (1990, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2014). Other than in 2014, he only nailed the years in which he forecasted an early spring. Considering the contiguous United States just experienced its 18th consecutive year with an above-average annual temperature, Phil may be wise to play the numbers and always predict an early spring."
So, 5 for 26 would work out to be between a .180 and .190 batting average if you were a baseball player. That's not going to get you very far. So, for folklore and tradition, keep watching Phil. But for accurate weather forecasting, not so much.