Long winter proves groundhog forecast


Punxsutawney Phil is held by Ron Ploucha after emerging from his burrow — and seeing his shadow — on February 2. According to tradition, seeing the shadow means a long winter. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)
March 17

Punxsutawney Phil told us to expect it. Phil, otherwise known as the Groundhog, predicted six more weeks of winter when he saw his shadow February 2 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Mother Nature proved him right by dumping five to 10 inches of snow in the Washington area six weeks after his prediction.

So does that mean Phil is, in fact, an amazing meteorologist?

Not exactly. He usually sees his shadow. Since the furry guy (or possibly one of his ancestors) started forecasting in 1887, he has seen his shadow 101 times.

Last year was one of only 17 times he didn’t, which should have meant an early spring. But March temperatures were colder than usual, the National Climatic Data Center reported. The center has a Web page on Phil’s predictions (www.ncdc.noaa.gov/special-reports/groundhog-day.php).

Jason Samenow, chief meteorologist for The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang, is willing to give Phil a tiny bit of credit: “Phil doesn’t have a great track record, and a rodent should never be mistaken for a scientist. But he got this year right. Hats off to him.”

Staff reports

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