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Modern Mysteries

How often is Punxsutawney Phil right ?

By T.K. Randall
February 3, 2015 · Comment icon 15 comments

Punxsutawney Phil during the Groundhog Day celebrations. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Anthony Quintano
Has the famous woodchuck of 'Groundhog Day' fame ever managed to make an accurate prediction ?
It was the bane of Bill Murray's existence in the 1993 Harold Ramis movie, but despite being an unlikely premise the actual Groundhog Day ceremony is a real thing that still takes place at the beginning of February each year across the United States.

Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog in the movie, continues to be part of the largest Groundhog Day celebration in Pennsylvania where large crowds still gather in anticipation of finding out whether or not spring is likely to arrive early.

According to the tradition, if the groundhog emerges and sees its own shadow then there will be six more weeks of winter whereas if it sees no shadow then the warmer weather will arrive sooner.
To determine just how accurate Punxsutawney Phil actually is at predicting the seasons a team at the Washington Post brought together and analyzed temperature statistics for the last 30 years.

What they found was that while Phil's predictions were correct more often than not for some areas of the country, the overall average temperature between the years in which he predicted a longer winter and the years in which he predicted an early spring varied by only a few degrees.

In other words Phil's predictions have boiled down to little more than random chance.

Source: Live Science | Comments (15)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by Valdemar the Great 10 years ago
I'm trying to remember what it was yesterday. it was yesterday, wasn't it? Oh yes, it was fairly cold and bright, as I remember. Well, saying "Winter will have another flight" is a fairly safe bet, isn't it.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Sundew 10 years ago
The Hawaiian weather rock on a rope is much more accurate: If rock is warm, it will be sunny. If rock is wet, it will be raining. If rock is swaying, it will be windy. If rock is bouncing around, you will have an earthquake. If rock is white, it will be snowing. If you can't see the rock, it's nighttime or you have had too many Mai Tai Cocktails. Of course there is a very short lag time between the predictions and the weather event.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Atuke 10 years ago
He's always right!i party there every year and it's right!
Comment icon #9 Posted by Junior Chubb 10 years ago
How often is Punxsutawney Phil right ? More often than Uri Geller...
Comment icon #10 Posted by 13Homerun13 10 years ago
Okay, so this poor ground hog will go back in his hole if he sees his shadow? No, he goes back into his hole because of all the bloody people standing around taking pictures of him and screaming and whatnot! Complete rubbish, if you ask me.
Comment icon #11 Posted by unclefred 10 years ago
He has a 39% accuracy rate.
Comment icon #12 Posted by toast 10 years ago
Imagine that a TV broadcast of this event would be the first transmission recieved by an intelligent alien race: Hlgmpf: "Hey Mrxllf, we recieved a transmission from sector 2141-11-bb and it looks like they are intelligent, do wear clothes and are able to communicate verbally." Mrxllf: "Well thats interesting but it seems that their president is of a different species and much smaller than the other ones." Hlgmpf: "Will send a probe for clarification today."
Comment icon #13 Posted by Valdemar the Great 10 years ago
Imagine that a TV broadcast of this event would be the first transmission recieved by an intelligent alien race: Hlgmpf: "Hey Mrxllf, we recieved a transmission from sector 2141-11-bb and it looks like they are intelligent, do wear clothes and are able to communicate verbally." Mrxllf: "Well thats interesting but it seems that their president is of a different species and much smaller than the other ones." Hlgmpf: "Will send a probe for clarification today." The President is a small creature, incapable of making any decisions by itself and with no real power, that's brought out every so often ... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by ChaosRose 10 years ago
His cuteness outweighs the need to make accurate predictions.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Realm 10 years ago
Lets build a sunproof dome over his hole and end these crappy winters.


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