How Accurate is Groundhog Day?

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Meteorologist Kevin Arnone

February 2nd is known as Groundhog Day, the date in which groundhogs across the world, including the most famous one, Punxsutawney Phil are looked to for weather forecasts.

The belief is that if the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six weeks left of winter. If the shadow is not seen, an early spring is on the way.

Looking back at history, the groundhog from Pennsylvania has not had such a great track record. The National Climatic Data Center conducted a study and found that the groundhog was only right 39% of the time. Considering the critter has a 50/50 chance of being correct, one might expect better accuracy.

Over the years, Phil has seen his shadow nearly 87% of the time, so the odds are for six more weeks of winter.What about last year?

Well, winter was virtually non-existent for the Northeast in 2015/2016, Punxsutawney did not see his shadow last year and he was right on! February and March finished above normalWhat about this year?

Below is one of our forecast models. This is the GFS, the graphic below shows the chance for cloud cover. Right now, it’s looking like there’s a pretty good shot at cloud cover across Punxsutawney, PA which is located in the western half of the state. Can’t rule out a few snow showers too!

If this forecast holds true, Phil won’t see his shadow and spring comes 6 weeks earlier!

What’s our forecast? 

Well, of course let’s wait until Thursday for Phil’s official forecast, but all indications are that winter actually gets going in February, especially in the northeast!

Below is a look at the climate prediction center forecast for temperatures in the first week of February. The jet stream is forecast to take a dive towards the south and allow colder air from Canada to usher into New England. The graphic below shows a 40 to 50 percent chance for below average temperatures and I couldn’t agree more.

But will the cold last? Some of our longer range models like the EURO EPS and CFS indicate February to be much colder and more active than what we saw in January. I’m sure all you winter lovers are excited about that! As always, follow me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading!Meteorologist Kevin Arnone

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