Groundhog Day 2013; Watch Punxsutawney Phil’s Prediction – Six More Weeks Of Winter? [LIVE STREAM]
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Punxsutawney Phil is the world's most famous groundhog. The annual Groundhog Day tradition involves the meteorologically-gifted rodent peeking out of his burrow on famous Gobbler's Knob in front of throes of onlookers who want to see if he sees his shadow and scurries back in, a sign of six more weeks of winter. If he comes out, it means winter ends early.
USA Today reports that, based on an analysis of weather data over the past 25 years, "there is no predictive skill for the groundhog during the most recent years of the analysis," according to the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.
The center found that since 1988, the groundhog has been "right" 10 times and "wrong" 15 times. In other words, only 10 times did the national average temperature for the remainder of February match what would be expected based on what the groundhog had predicted.
To be fair to Phil, most weather forecasters are off in their predictions too. A Freakonomics article on the subject got a few meteorologists to open up on the subject.
"There's not an evaluation of accuracy in hiring meteorologists" said one meteorologist. "Presentation takes precedence over accuracy."
And when it comes to presentation, well, Phil is king. According to his official website, more than 20,000 people come to watch his prediction live every year, with millions more tuning in around the world. Just take a look at last year's festivities.
All this pomp and circumstance begs the question: What's the deal with Groundhog Day anyway?
As a born-and-raised Pennsylvanian I will address and dismiss the most obvious argument: Punxsutawney is a very boring place.
Here's the official story from Pennsylvania's official tourism website:
The story of Groundhog Day begins with Candlemas, an early Christian holiday where candles were blessed and distributed. Celebrators of the holiday eventually declared clear skies on Candlemas meant a longer winter. The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, brought this tradition to the Germans, who concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, a hedgehog would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather or "Second Winter." German immigrants brought the tradition to Pennsylvania, but how did Punxsutawney Phil emerge?
In 1887, a spirited group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney dubbed themselves "The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club." One member was an editor of Punxsutawney's newspaper. Using his ink, he proclaimed Punxsutawney Phil, the local groundhog, to be the one and only weather prognosticating groundhog. He issued this proclamation on Candlemas, and yes, Groundhog Day.
And, because this article provides the flimsiest possible pretext for doing so, here's some Bill Murray.
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