Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Bitter Phil: The World's Most Persnickety Rodent

Posted By on Sun, Feb 2, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Bill Murray and Phil in Groundhog Day
  • Bill Murray and "Phil" in Groundhog Day

In a tradition that would make Bill Murray proud, thousands of visitors swelled the town of Punxsutawney, Penn. this morning to treat a rodent like a sun god.

And right after sunrise, some Punxsutawney locals (all wearing tuxedos and top hats for some reason) pulled the planet's most famous groundhog from his hibernation and claimed that the animal had seen his shadow, thereby predicting six more weeks of winter.

In reality, Punxsutawney Phil's prediction is decided ahead of time by the tuxedo-wearing group—called the Inner Circle.

Different incarnations of Punxsutawney Phil have been predicting the weather since 1887 at Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill in the town for which he's named, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Out of 126 times, the groundhog has seen his shadow 101 times.

And for the record, The National Climatic Data Center says the ridiculous ceremony has "no predictive skill."

"It really isn't a `bright' idea to take a measure such as a groundhog's shadow and use it as a predictive meteorological tool for the entire United States," the data center says on its website.

The center found that from 1988 to 2012, the groundhog was right 10 times and wrong 15 times.


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