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.
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While prospects for a white Christmas are grim along the I-95 corridor, many communities from the Great Lakes to the Rockies should be able enjoy a snowy scene for the holiday.
People who are dreaming of a white Christmas across the interior Northwest may see their dreams come true this year as another storm impacts the region.
Rain and thunderstorms, some capable of producing severe weather, will affect much of the South from Tuesday into Christmas Eve.
Several fast-moving storm systems will bring windy and wet weather to the British Isles and northern Europe.
A storm bearing gusty winds, heavy snow, torrential rain, thunderstorms and fog will converge on the East and Midwest on Christmas Eve and will likely create ground and flight delays.
Elk Park, MT (1983)
Unofficially -64 degrees F. (nation's all time record low is -70 degrees F.).
New Orleans, LA (1989)
1" of snow.
Chicago, IL (1993)
Only 0.2" of snow to this point in the season an all time low for so late in the season.