ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Once again Punxsutawney Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter. By groundhog standards, six more weeks bring us to Mar. 16., less than a week before the spring equinox. After doing some research we recommend Phil not quit his day job.
Using data from weather.gov and groundhog.org, NEWS10 was able to find the last recorded snowfall of the season and compare it to Phil’s prediction. Based on this data he’s been wrong 90% of the time. Hopefully, Phil never decides to become a meteorologist.
Looking back at Phil’s predictions between 2012-2021 and the last snowfall of that season in the Albany area, his ability to accurately predict the end of winter has been abysmal. The last snowfall typically fell in the first two weeks of April. The only year Phil predicted accurately was 2012. The last snowfall that year before Mar. 16 was recorded on Mar. 9. The snowfall amount was .3 inches.
“You know I didn’t see Phil, or any groundhogs, in my meteorology classes,” NEWS10 Meteorologist Jill Szwed said. “We can joke about these ‘predictions.’ Groundhog Day is a fun holiday to get us over the hump into the second half of winter.”
Take a look at the data below:
|Year||Phil’s prediction||Last snowfall||Snowfall amount (inches)|
|2012||+six weeks of winter||Mar. 9||.3|
|2013||early spring||Apr. 2||1.2|
|2014||+six weeks of winter||Apr. 15||2.4|
|2015||+six weeks of winter||Mar. 28||1.9|
|2016||early spring||Apr. 4||4.3|
|2017||+six weeks of winter||Apr. 1||.2|
|2018||+six weeks of winter||Apr. 7||1.3|
|2019||early spring||Apr. 5||2.1|
|2020||early spring||Apr. 22||.1|
|2021||+six weeks of winter||Apr. 16||.3|
“Groundhogs have many strengths, from home design (their complex, multi-chamber burrows even have separate bathrooms) to hospitality (a typical groundhog greeting is a sweet nose kiss). Meteorology, however, is not one of them,” said People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
PETA said they would like to see Phil and his companion Phyllis; get the retirement at a sanctuary they’ve earned and turn the predictions over to the persimmons tree. PETA said persimmons seeds are right about predicting the harshness of winter about 25% of the time, making them more than twice as accurate as Phil’s.
The type of forecasting has roots in Cherokee Nation history and involves cutting open an overly ripened persimmon seed. A spoon-shaped kernel indicates there’ll be more snow in the season, a fork-shaped kernel indicates a mild winter with light, powdery snow. A knife-shaped kernel predicts frigid temperatures.
PETA said an Oklahoma man who grew up in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma claimed he was able to predict the harshness of winter with 85% accuracy.
“Folklore-based weather forecasting can be a fun ritual, but it doesn’t have to involve exploiting groundhogs, who don’t want to be forced into confusing, stressful interactions. The groundhog club could spare Phil noisy crowds, bright lights, and near-constant confinement by starting a new, animal-friendly tradition,” PETA said.