Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yea, Phil ! ! !

Punxatawney Phil predicted an early Spring this morning!! I, for one, can't wait.
As the legend goes, if Phil sees his shadow, we'll have six more weeks of winter. Normally, this ceremony attracts an early morning crowd of 10,000-15,000 onlookers at Gobbler's Knob, located a bit northeast of Pittsburgh. This morning it was 35 degrees and raining. Sleet and snow were forecast. The crowd was small. Most importantly, there wasn't enough sun to form a shadow ! !

So, just how accurate is a groundhog's prediction? Turns out - not very ! He's been right only 39% of the time. Good news is, he's been more accurate when he's predicted an early Spring than a longer winter. His early Spring forecasts have actually come through 47% of the time!! (Incidentally, the National Weather Service only claims a 60% overall accuracy rate and they use all kinds of sophisticated equipment and charts and such.)

Ever wondered how we've all come to ask a groundhog to predict the weather? Seems an old German superstition says that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on February 2 (the Christian holiday of Candlemas) winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, the legend claimed there would come an early Spring. Now, which would you rather disturb - a sleeping bear or a small rodent ?!?

I guess that's why we have come to celebrate Groundhog Day and not Grizzly Bear Day !!

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