An early spring…or not?

by | February 10, 2019 6:00 pm

Last Updated: February 10, 2019 at 10:09 am

Well, folks, February 2 has come and gone, and Punxsutawny Phil, the world-famous groundhog, has seen his shadow. Now we can get ready for an early spring, right?


Every February, thousands of people make the trek to Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania, for the celebration to watch Phil come out of his den to predict the future. If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. However, if he doesn’t see his shadow, it will be an early spring.

The problem? Phil is wrong more often than right. His 39 percent accuracy rate is less than flipping a coin, which statistically gives you a 50 percent chance of being correct.

When thinking about this issue, it brings a question to mind. Why not swap the predictions? It would be easy to give him a 61 percent accuracy rate. Simply change it so if he sees his shadow, an early spring is coming, and if he doesn’t, there will be six more weeks of winter. Problem solved. At least he’d be better than a coin flip at that point.

However, the residents around Gobbler’s Knob seem to want to keep the inaccuracies. They do have a couple of explanations for it. First is that it’s the president’s fault. No, not whomever is in the oval office. Phil tells his predictions to the Inner Circle President, the leader of the group who cares for Phil during the rest of the year. Phil supposedly tells the president in “groundhogese” what his prediction is.

So is it really Phil’s inaccuracy, or is the current president not fluent enough in groundhogese?

The other explanation is that Phil’s predictions are always correct, 100 percent of the time, in some portion of the country. The U.S. covers a vast amount of ground, with a huge variance in climate. Therefore, every year, some portion has an early spring or extra weeks of winter, ergo, Phil is never wrong. He is simply reporting on various areas around the country each year. Hmmmmm.

Honestly, I think Phil’s accuracy levels are on par with most weathermen. They have jobs where they’re allowed to be wrong most of the time. Next day temperature predictions are usually pretty close, and next day rain forecasts are now over 80 percent accurate. However, that drastically drops off the farther out it gets.

Since Phil is predicting for a six-week window, instead of the easy two weeks we get from weathermen, I’m inclined to cut him a little slack. He doesn’t have fancy computers modeling his predictions, nor does he depend on radar.

Frankly, based on our weather the last few days, I think we can safely say we’re in the area of the country which fits Phil’s predictions this year. Here’s to an early spring. Thanks, Phil.

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