Sources have long presented conflicting information on the groundhog’s accuracy.
Phil’s official website claims he has “of course” issued a correct forecast 100 percent of the time. But NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information notes that Phil’s forecasts have shown “no predictive skill” in recent years.
AccuWeather finds the rodent has an 80 percent accuracy rate. But the StormFax Almanac reports that Phil has been right a lowly 39 percent of the time.
Since his first prediction in 1887, Phil has seen his shadow 102 times and not seen it on just 18 occasions, including this year. Nine years are missing from the record, but Phil has issued a forecast without exception.
NOAA says Groundhog Day originated as a celebration of the midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox.
“Superstition has it that fair weather [at this midpoint] was seen as forbearance of a stormy and cold second half to winter,” NOAA writes in its summary of Groundhog Day background and folklore.
Groundhog Day-like celebrations are held in several regions of North America where other beloved rodents make their predictions, including:
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