Thursday, February 2, 2017

Dueling Groundhogs

Over the years I've followed the predictions of Punxsutawney Phil, the country's most famous predicting groundhog. Years ago an article noted that Phil only appears to be right 39% of the time, and an astute commenter pointed out that Phil was in fact quite accurate, so long as you reversed every prediction he made. Today, Phil predicted six more weeks of winter, which is apparently par for the course.

This year, though, Phil has some competition. Dunkirk Dave, a rival groundhog from New York, agreed with Phil, but General Beauregard Lee, a rival from Georgia, predicted an early spring. Since we have some data points to work with, we can finally see about testing Phil's accuracy against his peers.

Records dating to 1887 show Phil predicting more winter 102 times while forecasting an early spring just 18 times — including last year, the AP reports. There are no records for the remaining years.

Dunkirk Dave also predicted six more weeks of winter after emerging in Dunkirk, New York. Dave, actually a female groundhog whose non-stage name is Sidewinder, is claimed to be the world’s second-longest predicting groundhog.

But, Gen. Beauregard Lee, a resident groundhog at Georgia's Yellow River Game Ranch in Gwinnett County, predicted an early spring, along with a Super Bowl win for the Atlanta Falcons.

The Groundhog Day tradition has its origin in a German legend that says if a furry rodent casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter continues, the Associated Press reports. If not, spring comes early.

Where I live in Minnesota, you generally are pretty safe predicting six more weeks of winter at the beginning of February. February is always cold, so that's four more weeks right there. We did have one crazy year awhile back where we had summer temperatures at the beginning of March, but as far as anyone could remember that had never happened before.

This winter has been pretty mild here so far, so I'm wondering if Phil might be wrong again, or at least as wrong as he's likely to be given the climate of my state. It didn't really get cold until Thanksgiving this year, and we only have had one day below -20 so far, back in December. So we'll have to see this year how well the reverse-groundhogmancy method manages to work.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

No comments: