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, 102 times. There were 18 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.
Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha, left, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
"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 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 next prognostication around 7:25 a.m. EST on Feb. 2, 2017.
A strong 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck central Italy at 3:36 a.m. local time Wednesday morning, the USGS reported.
Tropical Depression Seven strengthened into Tropical Storm Gaston during Monday night with another system attempting to form near the Caribbean.
Following a fall-like start to the week, warmth and humidity will build over the northeastern United States prior to the weekend.
A budding tropical disturbance has the potential to reach Florida with gusty winds, showers and thunderstorms during Sunday and Monday.
The return of warmer and more humid air will trigger another round of strong thunderstorms across the central United States this week.
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2.20 inches of rain in 1 hour.
Chesapeake Bay Area (1933)
Hurricane - 6.39 inches of rain in Washington, D.C. Damage in Maryland close to $17 million. Tide 7 feet above normal flooded Norfolk, VA.
Dry thunderstorms ignited more than 100 fires in the Wenatchee and Okanogan National Forests.