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Why Phil May be Wrong Again

This just in from Punxsutawney: A high-tech, very scientific, not-fake weather prediction from a so-called reputable rodent is for...drum roll please...six more weeks of winter.

The reaction from this Detroit news anchor is probably shared by most in the eastern half of the U.S...

For those disappointed by this news, we did find Mister Phil's track record to be...well, far from earth-shattering.

He may be the world's most famous forecaster, but according to the Stormfax Weather Almanac, the fury rodent's accuracy rate is only 39 percent. Even worse, he rarely predicts what most Americans want after a harsh winter - an early spring.

Nevertheless, tens of thousands flock to the tiny Pennsylvania town before sunrise every February 2nd to see the what the woodchuck sees. Or in this case, doesn't see. If the sun is out and Phil's shadow appears, German folklore claims there will be six more weeks of winter. No shadow reportedly foretells the coming of an early spring, which according to records kept by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has only happened 18 times since 1887.

Courtesy: NOAA

NOAA - yes, the Federal Government keeps track of this - says Phil was wrong last year when his 6-week winter prediction was spoiled by two straight months of above normal temperatures nationwide. A global weather pattern called La Niña, which was established long before the critter ever crawled out of his hole in Gobbler's Knob, was likely the biggest player in the earlier arriving warmth.

Similar signals are in place this year for large scale warmth in February and March, but maybe the groundhog is basing his prediction on what he's observed so far. The winter has been colder than normal across much of the country, especially the eastern half. And according to the National Weather Service, the next few days in Punxsutawney are likely to be snowy and cold.

Even if the groundhog is wrong again, one thing is as sure as a sunrise on February 2nd. Phil will keep his job.

Sources include nearest National Weather Service office, National Hurricane Center, and the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (@FloridaStorms).
Sources include nearby emergency management agencies, FEMA, and your local NPR affiliate. 
Sources include the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Highway Patrol and other nearby traffic information.

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