Is there a method to Punxsutawney Phil's madness in predicting how long winter will last on Groundhog Day?
Since the tradition of Groundhog Day began in Punxsutawney in 1886, Phil has seen his shadow, on record, 100 times. There were 17 times that he did not see his shadow, and nine years during the late 1800s that there is no record of Phil's forecast.
Though Phil's method may seem flawed -- anticipating that the sight of his shadow determines a longer winter, while no shadow calls for an early spring -- he has a tendency to get it right. Because the year's coldest quarter, also known as meteorological winter, runs from Dec. 5 to March 5, Phil's accuracy in predicting a longer winter is about 80 percent.
Phil's logic comes from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox observances of Candlemas Day, tracing back almost 1,000 years.
"An early association between the weather forecast and the religious observance is found in a Scottish couplet: 'If Candlemas is fair and clear / There'll be two winters in the year.'" AccuWeather.com Chief Forecaster Elliot Abrams said.
"If the weather is 'fair,' the groundhog sees its shadow, and this is supposed to mean six more weeks of winter," Abrams said. "This is somewhat like saying that despite the sunshine on Groundhog Day, more winter is due." In any case, on this Groundhog Day, the Northeast and Northwest can plan on seeing six more weeks of winter.
Phil will emerge to make his prognostication around 7:25 a.m. EST on Feb. 2, 2014.
Whether Phil calls for an early spring or not, the AccuWeather.com Long-Range Forecasting Team predicted that winter will continue for about half of the U.S.
A new storm may take a northward turn and rapidly strengthen Monday night into Tuesday, perhaps bringing blizzard conditions to part of New England and Long Island.
An Alberta Clipper storm moving in from the Midwest will bring snow to areas in the mid-Atlantic missed by a coastal storm on Saturday.
An Alberta Clipper storm will spread a swath of accumulating snow and slippery travel through the Midwest during Saturday night and Sunday.
A winter storm is spreading accumulating snow from the mid-Atlantic to southern New England.
After bringing rain and snow to the mid-Atlantic Friday night, a winter storm will focus on eastern New England through Saturday afternoon.
Significant snow is expected to move into Atlantic Canada over the weekend.
New England (1857)
Coldest in pre-USWB history: Minus 50 degrees reported in ME, NH, VT.; minus 30 degrees in Boston suburbs and minus 11 degrees on Nantucket Island.
Medicine Hat, Alberta (1897)
Pressure of 31.51 inches.
Browning, MT (1916)
Temperature plunged 100 degrees in 24 hours It was a record 24 hour temperature drop for the US.