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.
Showers and thunderstorms will return to the Southwest late this week and could reach part of California.
A cold front swinging into the Northeast will bring the threat of severe weather to part of the region on Tuesday afternoon.
The southwest Gulf of Mexico has given birth to the Atlantic basin's fourth tropical storm of the season and will send torrential rain into northern Mexico.
Flooding is a concern across southwest Mexico through midweek as Norbert moves just offshore.
The Alaskan wood frog, which freezes itself during the harsh winter months, can remain in an extreme frozen state far longer than researchers originally thought.
An area of low pressure will bring a threat of heavy rain and flooding to parts of southern Europe through the middle of the week.
East Coast (1775)
Matecumbe Key, FL (1935)
Labor Day Hurricane hit Florida. Pressure at Matecumbe Key dipped to 26.35"/892.3 mb. Most intense hurricane ever to hit the U.S. with 200-mph wind. Tide of 15 feet; 408 dead.
Mecca, CA (1950)
126 degrees - highest ever for U.S. in Sept.