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 16 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 broadcaster 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.
"I think we could still see some late-season winter storms [in the Northeast]," AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.
Additionally, the spring will likely bring worsening drought conditions for the hardest hit areas and could once again place in the top ten warmest on record for the U.S. For the full length AccuWeather.com Spring Forecast, click here.
Phil will emerge to make his prognostication around 7:20 a.m. EST on Feb. 2, 2013.
A prolonged heat wave across northern Argentina has led to blackouts in and around Buenos Aires.
A powerful storm will bring disruptive weather from Spain to France and Italy for Christmas Day.
At least five storm systems will impact the United Kingdom and Ireland through Christmas.
Ice, rain and snow are slamming the United States from Texas to Maine.
Thunderstorms in parts of the South this weekend are threatening lives and property.
As California heads into its third consecutive dry winter with no relief in sight, firefighters continue to battle a late-fall blaze in Big Sur.
Second of triple December storms - 25" at Gettysburg, PA.
Kansas City (1961)
16.6" snow, greatest in December.
Portland, MI (2001)
34 consecutive days with measurable rainfall.