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Groundhog Day: How accurate is Punxsutawney Phil?

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Jason Cohn/REUTERS

(Read caption) Punxsutawney Phil is lovable, sure. But is the Groundhog Day hero an accurate weather forecaster?

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Like most TV weathermen, Punxsutawney Phil is more about style than science. Each Groundhog Day, people gather at Gobbler's Knob in Pennsylvania to await a winter weather prediction from America's favorite furry forecaster.

Today, the marmot meteorologist saw his shadow, foretelling six more weeks of winter. But just how accurate is Groundhog Day?

Flipping through the history books, it seems Punxsutawney Phil has spotted his shadow 99 out of 114 times. That would mean poor Pennsylvania rarely gets an early spring. However, according to the Stormfax Almanac, the groundhog is only right 39 percent of the time – a failing grade in school terms. (PETA wants to replace him with a robot groundhog, maybe that would help his chances.)

But can you blame him? Most professional weathermen, armed with high-tech satellite imagery and advanced computer models, wouldn't dare guess six weeks into the future. Their accuracy drops quickly even three days out.


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