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.
Severe thunderstorms spawned tornadoes in major metropolitan areas, while wildfires raged in the West and flooding downpours persisted in the East.
As much of the West continues to be plagued by intense drought, the production of favorite and trendy foods may be more challenging for states operating in dry conditions.
A warmer weather pattern is forecast for much of the Central and Eastern states, while temperatures should throttle back in the Northwest during the middle of August.
Japan and South Korea face tropical floods into this weekend; the danger of a typhoon looms for next week.
Bertha is forecast to take a curved path near the islands in the northeastern Caribbean this weekend, then to stay off the East Coast of the United States next week.
Erie, PA (2000)
1.75" diameter hail.
A total of 5.31" of rain.
New England (1975)
"Hot Saturday" 107 degrees in New Bedford and Chester, MA All-time hottest day - 104 degrees in Providence, RI (also all-time record for state) 100 degrees in Nantucket for the first time