Still better than the Met Office

Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Punxsutawney Phil is held by Ben Hughes after emerging this morning from his burrow on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney. Phil saw his shadow and forecast six more weeks of winter weather.

Don’t put those cold weather clothes in storage just yet.

Punxsutawney Phil, the internationally known weather prognosticating groundhog, saw his shadow this morning and predicted six more weeks of winter.

Thousands gathered on Gobbler’s Knob in Jefferson County to await the groundhog’s annual prediction. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club said Phil has seen his shadow 98 times since 1887, hasn’t seen it 15 times, and there are no records for nine years.

Read more: http://www.pittsburghpost-gazette.com/pg/10033/1032831-258.stm#ixzz0eOp1FisE

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102 thoughts on “Still better than the Met Office

  1. More heavy global warming in Aberdeen, Scotland these last few days.

    The Met Office confirms that putting the months of December 2009 and January 2010 together gives us the coldest period we’ve had since 1963.

    http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/8493129.stm

    My own Punxsutawney Phil (my left knee after ACL injury) is still telling us we’ve got worse to come.

  2. Here we have a Phil that is grounded in solid, traditional Earth-science, whose shadow preceeds him… and 6 more weeks of winter.

  3. ” …Phil has seen his shadow 98 times since 1887, hasn’t seen it 15 times, and there are no records for nine years.”

    Any data on how this correlates with subsequent weather ?

  4. Cool, an animal that can predict the weather better than the Met Office. Has he any offspring that we can send to the CRU?

  5. The Arctic Oscillation is headed back towards record lows, so it seems a safe bet that there will be more winter.

    NCEP agrees. Looks like The White House is going to have a large heating bill this month, as they hammer out Cap and Trade legislation to stop runaway global warming.

    http://wxmaps.org/pix/temp1.html

  6. “Today it was reported that Punxsutawney Phil the famous climatologist groundhog from Pennsylvania will soon begin
    his new position as head of the HadleyCRU at EAst Anglia University, replacing the former head Phil Jones, who , it is said, will be departing for his new position at Gobblers Knob.
    Experts in the field applauded this move with great excitement, “With the REAL Phil here, perhaps we can get some accurate predictions for a change”. Neither Mr Jones nor the Groundhog were available for comment.

  7. Now there is a happy looking groundhog! You can see it in his eyes!

    (Do they make a rabies vaccine for groundhogs? Just wondering.)

  8. So I was never really clear on what is the “another six weeks”. Is that six weeks past Feb. 2, or six weeks after the first day of spring, or six weeks past the “average” last day of snow for a given area. It’s kind of muddled in my mind. I mean, honestly, growing up in northern MI if someone told us we only had six more weeks of winter (rather than another 14) we were thrilled!

    REPLY:
    You aren’t supposed to get hard numbers from this, given that the forecast is using “fuzzy” logic. – A

  9. Bernice (09:30:47) :

    I’ve discovered that if my maine coon cat – called luxor – goes out his cat flap regularly, it means its cold – he seems to like snow and frost.

  10. As a Pennsylvanian who has kept up with Phil and his predictions, it’s impressive how well he does.

    Obviously, the measurement of his accuracy is somewhat suspect. At what location is spring to come or not to come? How is it measured if wintery weather has hung around or if spring-like weather has arrived?

    Still, even given those fairly fluid measurements, his “predictions” are pretty accurate, at least for the western-PA area. If he has seen his shadow, there were almost always significant snowfalls after the first day of spring. If he didn’t see his shadow (only four times in my record keeping) then there was not any snow after the first day of spring. (Except for one year up in Erie.)

  11. “My own Punxsutawney Phil (my left knee after ACL injury) is still telling us we’ve got worse to come.”

    I have one of those as well….

  12. I love Ground Hog’s Day. The perennial silliness of it all, no obligation to celebrate, buy gifts or visit relatives, plus the movie, makes it the perfect holiday.

  13. Calendar wise he can never be wrong if he forecasts 6 more weeks of Winter. 46 days from now is the first day of Spring. And who made this one Groundhog the official one for the entire world the IPCC?

  14. Ever notice they don’t define “around the corner” as in “if the rodent doesn’t see his shadow he stays out and spring is just around the corner.” I have it on good authority (mine) that it’s just 1 1/2 months away.

    Ever notice they read from a pronouncement that likely was written before sunrise?

    Ever notice they never have a photo of Phil’s shadow on the ground?

  15. Well, he sure beats the Met Office, which every day has the same forecast that I think I read as a joke on a Bazooka Joe bubble gum comic: “Chili today, hot tamale.”

  16. How big its shadow is going to be if we are heading into an ice age?

    Is that a Punxsutawney Phil better known as PPYAD06, the most influential ground hog in the world?

  17. Well Phil (is he edible?) has some competitiion.

    The Jan 22 2010 issue of SCIENCE has a front cover picture from Pinar del Rio, in Cuba; and the cover story announces; “A State-of-the-art computer model” that “projects” that global warming “should” cause an increase in the frequency of the most intense western Atlantic hurricanes during the 21st century.

    With 9% of the 21st century already in the can, it so far is looking too promising for this presumably peer reviewed state-of-the-art computer model.

    Note it is a state-of-the-art model; not to be confused with a state-of-the-science model.

    My money is on Phil; (unless he IS edible !)

  18. REPLY: You aren’t supposed to get hard numbers from this, given that the forecast is using “fuzzy” logic. – A

    “fuzzy” logic or perhaps furry logic.
    I wonder how the processing power of the met office computer compares with the processing power of a groundhog brain?

  19. I heard that a group of russian marmots had intercepted the tree-mails between Phil and his colleagues. It is quite known that the ground-hog community has conspired with Phil for sometime, prejudicing the outcome to expect more longer winters. The whole ground-hog community benefits by being pampered for a bit longer. Although, some believe an isider ground hog within the tightly knit Puxatawny community exposed the furry Phil as the fraud that he is.

  20. I think you will find that, with value added adjustment, there is no snow, it isn’t cold, and spring is getting earlier and earlier – thus melting the glaciers killing polar bears and causing Antarctic tourists to have to clean their boots to prevent acidification of the ever rising oceans which will first submerge and then dissolve the Maldives.
    But if it does turn out to be cold, that is also a typical effect of global warming. Obviously.

    “I got you babe…..”

  21. Have other Groundhogs peer-reviewed Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction?
    Can he provide the raw data or do we have to really on his homogenized results?
    Has he considered the UHI effect?

  22. From the Ontario news service:

    If you believe Wiarton Willie, there will be six more weeks of winter. Canada’s most famous weather prognosticating rodent saw his shadow this morning.

    Wiarton Willie Festival spokesperson Shane Sargant tells 570 News unlike other years, the prediction kicks off a full week of games, activities, music and food in Wiarton.

    Earlier today, both Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam and Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania also saw their shadows, meaning six more weeks of winter.
    ——

    THREE groundhogs can’t be wrong!

  23. I’ve got this great plan for a Groundhog tax… It’ll make the world a much better and safer place for ourselves and our children…

  24. Yippee!!!! If Punxsutawney Phil would have been on the Pacific Northwest this morning he wouldn’t have seen its shadow, it’s raining here… Spring is coming… better get the tank full on the BBQ.

  25. Ruchard Heg: A Groundhog brain doesn’t run on models so it is by far more accurate that the met office computer.
    There is another difference: Groundhog’s brain it’s an animal’s brain not run by animals.

  26. Richard Heg (10:17:50) :

    (…)
    I wonder how the processing power of the met office computer compares with the processing power of a groundhog brain?

    Groundhogs win on optical data processing. A groundhog can recognize its own shadow. The Met supercomputer doesn’t notice its own carbon footprint, nor recognize what bad results look like.

  27. “Well Phil (is he edible?)”

    Traditional American folk song:

    Shoulder up your gun, and
    Whistle up your dog.
    Shoulder up your gun, and
    whistle up your dog,
    Off to the woods,
    For to catch a groundhog,
    Oh groundhog.

    Run here Sally with a 10-foot pole,
    Run here Sally with a 10-foot pole,
    Twist this whistle-picker outta his hole.
    Oh groundhog.

    Here comes Sal with a snigger and a grin,
    Here comes Sal with a snigger and a grin,
    Groundhog gravy all over her chin.
    Oh groundhog.

    Eat up the meat and save the hide,
    Eat up the meat and save the hide,
    Best durn shoestring ever was tied.
    Oh groundhog.

    There’s meat in the cupboard, and
    Butter in the churn,
    Meat’s in the cupboard and
    Butter’s in the churn,
    If that ain’t groundhog I’ll be durn.
    Oh groundhog.

    Watch them boys they’re about to fall,
    Watch them feller’s they’re about to fall,
    They eat til their britches
    Won’t button a’tall.
    Oh groundhog.

  28. CoonAZ (09:43:57) :

    …….
    REPLY: You aren’t supposed to get hard numbers from this, given that the forecast is using “fuzzy” logic. – A

    Shouldn’t that be ‘furry”?

  29. Punxsutawney Phil is also a far cheaper means of predicting the weather than the CRU supercomputer, now tera-flopping at an alarming rate.

    How much fraud could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck fraud?

    PS to non-rodent weather forecasters: my deepest sympathies for your cultural declination.

  30. THIS Phil admits when he doesn’t have data (9 missing years); the OTHER Phil uses secret “infilling” algorithms. Everything is turned upside down…

  31. I have no confidence in the predictive skills of that rodent called Phil.

    However that groundhog sounds believable.

  32. vigilantfish (10:26:48) :
    “…Earlier today, both Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam and Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania also saw their shadows, meaning six more weeks of winter.
    ——
    THREE groundhogs can’t be wrong!”

    Oh no… Not another consensus. If they’re taking money from the IPCC, the next scandal could be just around the corner – Groundhoggate anyone?

  33. Cathy (09:27:19) :

    “Finally. Research we can trust.”

    LOL! Someone should make a poster with Punxsutawney Phil grinning at the camera and the inscription – “Climate research we can trust!” – any photoshoppers out there?

    By the way, someone should check the IPCC reports – they may have used Phil’s research as a reference!

    Phil, P. (2005) “Winter climate forecast proxies based on mammal shadow observations,” The Punxsutawney Journal of Climate, Vol 7 No. 3.

  34. Well, you will all be pleased to know this: the head of the UK Met Office a few said in a TV interview: “We are pretty good with our short term forecasts of up to five days, not so good with forecasts of a few weeks or months, but very good at forecasting 20-50 years ahead.”

    Those unfortunately aren’t his exact words, however this seemed to be the rationale behind him awarding himself a big financial bonus.

    As you can imagine the interviewer was more than a little bemused as the country was at a near standstill as the result of an unforecasted severe cold snap.

    The point, of course, is how can you possibly say – with a straight face – that you are not very good with a weather forecast of a few weeks or months, but are very good with ones several decades into the future.

  35. fFreddy (09:30:37) : “Any data on how [Punxsutawney Phil] correlates with subsequent weather ?”

    Check the IPCC’s AR4. They’ve referenced plenty of other folk tales…

  36. Great post from the Guardian

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/01/climate-change-university-east-anglia?showallcomments=true#CommentKey:66863d5a-dd4d-404d-8548-e848de5ec43f

    One of the things that surprised me the most when I first dipped my toes into the climate debate several months ago was the dogmatic devotion of the AGW faithful. Indeed, the whole AGW movement stinks like a crusade.

    1- The gods (Scientists)
    2- The sacred texts (IPCC reports)
    3- We are all sinners (Our carbon footprint)
    4- We must repent (Stop using fossil fuels)
    5- The end of the world is nigh! (the looming climate catastrophe)
    6- The four horsemen of the Apocalypse (War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. Identical to the ones AGW believers scare people with)

  37. What on earth is Phil Jones on about?

    “One newspaper claimed Professor Jones withheld information from sceptic Douglas Keenan, who queried data from Chinese weather stations used in a 1990 study on global warming.
    Professor Jones said he was confident the paper, which drew on 42 urban and 42 rural sites, was correct because it was validated by the new data…

    …The later study showed an average 0.1C warming per decade due to urbanisation and 0.15C of climate warming each decade between 1951 and 2004”
    (from channel4 – http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/science_technology/climate+email+row+scientists+speak+out/3524137)

    Isn’t 0.1C per decade the same as 1C per century?
    So the original paper by Jones and Wang discovered a UHI of 0.1C per decade?
    This is the paper that the IPPC cited as evidence of a negligible UHI effect?
    At least Groundhogs speak proper Groundhogese and not gobbledygook.

  38. Steve Goddard (09:33:58) :

    NCEP agrees. Looks like The White House is going to have a large heating bill this month, as they hammer out Cap and Trade legislation to stop runaway global warming.

    It’s more like global warming got hammered, saw Phil’s shadow the next morning and ran away.

  39. Here are some news of the weather that has been:

    Stockholm, Sweden, has just experienced a month of January without a single day] with temperatures above 0°C. This is the first time this has happened since…..

    ……..1829.

    Some weather!

    (The Swedish meterological institute started to measure temperatures in Stockholm in 1756.)

  40. Sort of off the subject but good to know: If you want to know about the latest news regarding the Winter Olympics, read this link.

    http://www.accuweather.com/mt-news-blogs.asp?partner=rss&blog=2010-winter-games&pgurl=/mtweb/content/2010-winter-games/archives/2010/02/not_the_first_time_for_snow_concerns.asp

    This will not be the first Olympics dealing with not enough snow, as they’ve had snow shortages a number of times before with one such time back in 1932. So any alarmism during the games will be misplaced because this isn’t the first time and will likely not be the last.

  41. It seems to me that the fellow holding Phil has a rather goofy look on his face as if he is checking out Phil’s thermometer.

  42. Anyway, My Granddad on my mom’s side (passed away in 1954, I could still set on his knee then) always said that if the ground hog saw his shadow we would have 6 more weeks of winter, if not we would only have a month and a half. My nearly 62 years of experiance confirms his observations.

  43. Okay, Phil is alive so it is obviously raw data but since he is pulled out of his hole by a man instead of coming out on his own isn’t the data manipulated too?

  44. AleaJactaEst (09:23:29) :

    “More heavy global warming in Aberdeen, Scotland these last few days.

    The Met Office confirms that putting the months of December 2009 and January 2010 together gives us the coldest period we’ve had since 1963″

    I wish it had been as warm as that. In fact December and January were the coldest in Scotland since records began.
    In 1914!!!!

  45. I understand that Texas was going to unveil a climate predicting armadillo to compete with the Yankee rodent Phil. Unfortunately, it froze to death last month.

  46. >>
    REPLY: You aren’t supposed to get hard numbers from this, given that the forecast is using “fuzzy” logic. – A
    <<

    In deference to those who think it is “furry” logic. I think “shadow” logic seems more to the point.

    Jim

  47. “Thousands gathered on Gobbler’s Knob in Jefferson County to await the groundhog’s annual prediction. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club said Phil has seen his shadow 98 times since 1887, hasn’t seen it 15 times, and there are no records for nine years.”

    Can we have some trend calculations on this?

  48. I always figured that regardless of shadow or no shadow, that Spring would arrive on the Spring Equinox in about 6 weeks (well 7 but, hey this is prognostication right?).

  49. D. King (12:44:27) :

    Where is the missing 9 years of data?
    Well? Where is it Phil?

    OK…OK! I was moving to my new digs and lost the
    old data, but it doesn’t undermine the underlying
    science behind my predictions!

  50. Economists Jonathan Zinman and Eric Zitzewitz, skiers who took offense to a fluffed-up claim, studied snow reports from 2004 to 2008 and compared them to area government weather stations. They found that ski resorts across the U.S. and Canada reported more fresh snow — 23 percent more, on average — on skier-coveted weekends than during the week. Resorts with more business to gain were the ones most likely to boast of deeper snowfalls, their study said.

    Rest of the story here.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100129/ap_on_re_us/us_snow_exaggeration

  51. I officially attest that groundhogs are edible, and very much so, especially with onions. We roasted one on campfire in Tian Shan mountains when I was about 14 years old. Probably a bit different species than the American one but it looked pretty much the same. Now PETA will come and burn my house.

  52. Ten reasons why Punxsutawney Phil is a climate skeptic:

    1) He wears a fur coat year round demonstrating no belief in global warming

    2) His latest research predicts a longer, colder winter (at least six more weeks). Outraged by his prediction, PETA charged that Phil should step down and be replaced by a robot with a suitable operating system to run general circulation models as the basis for future predictions.

    3) When shown a photograph of Michael Mann posing with a tree ring and asked what he thought of tree ring dendochronology, he responded “stupid beaver – he cut the dam log too short!”

    4) He uses real observational data in his predictions.

    5) He always responds to FOIA (Furry Observer of Inclement Atmosphere) requests.

    6) He makes no attempt to hide the decline. He says “everyone knows a groundhog’s burrow declines, why hide it?”

    7) He is adamant that the solar insolation and cloud variability play a huge role in his observations and being able to predict future climate. This has drawn sharp criticism and ad-hom from AGW believers.

    8) His sole use of uncooked observational data demonstrates his lack of faith in the predictive skills of climate models.

    9) His methodologies and conclusions have been confirmed by independent researchers (Canada’s Wiarton Willie and Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam). Special thanks to vigilantfish (10:26:48) for bringing this to my attention.

    10) His latest prediction was carried by Fox news.

  53. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club said Phil has seen his shadow 98 times since 1887, hasn’t seen it 15 times, and there are no records for nine years.

    Then he’s appropriately named “Phil”.
    He must have fought with a dog those nine years and the dog won.

    Incidently, it was reported that his shadow was the second darkest evar since 1887.

  54. The best part of GroundHog Day is watching lovely Andie MacDowell and goofy Bill Murray in the movie of the same name.

  55. Holding a critter with chompers the size of a woodchuck up close to my face like that?

    Not likely.

  56. Don’t you worry SandyInDerby, my local town (in West Virginia, USA) had a departure of -3 in temperature for January, but you will of course be happy to know that although it’s colder than normal almost anywhere you can think of, January 2010 will be the warmest on record globally… I bet you a groundhog dinner…

  57. Wow and I always thought Groundhog day was a work of fiction, which I can say was a work of art with lots of replay value. Anywho, it’s funny that with all the Science mumbo jumbo the Met Office has, people would rather choose the predictions of an animal over it. Nature > science perhaps?

    -Maurizio Maranghi

  58. ” …Phil has seen his shadow 98 times since 1887, hasn’t seen it 15 times, and there are no records for nine years.”

    For those unknown 9 years, Michael Mann just spliced in data from a groundhog in Ohio.

  59. easy,

    becaus hadley is olmost everytime wrong. Thea have to predict dramatic warming with all the ipcc given complications.

    never mind, it`s just a kind of business.

  60. “Hidethedecline Phil” has seen his own shadow and has some cold and wintery days ahead, and the phrase “climategate” surely greets him every day just like the song “I’ve got you, babe” did for Weatherman Phil in the movie “Groundhog day. :)

    regarDS

  61. JonesII (09:49:48) :

    Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast has not been Peer Reviewed!

    Sure has, Phil’s got lots of peers nearby to review him, same as HadleyCRU.

  62. “The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club said Phil has seen his shadow 98 times since 1887, hasn’t seen it 15 times, and there are no records for nine years.”

    See Dr. Hansen at GISS, he knows how to extrapolate away those pesky missing nine years! (As long as they are within 1200).

  63. Ray (09:21:36) :

    Punxsutawney Phil is 36% correct in his predictions… much better than the MET Office.

    But worse than chance (when you only have two choices). Silly traditions should just be forgotten, not paraded around.

  64. most of us kiwis dont know what this Groundhog thing is all about .So you would only see his shadow on a sunny day.

  65. I wish it had been as warm as that. In fact December and January were the coldest in Scotland since records began.
    In 1914!!!!

    Thats funny, the GISS records start in 1880 for Glasgow at least.


  66. Frank K. (11:39:25) :

    By the way, someone should check the IPCC reports – they may have used Phil’s research as a reference!

    HAHAHAHA

    IPCC has their own Phil (pauchauri’s slippery shadow…)

  67. Posted this on an earlier thread , but more appropriate here.

    I wonder how many U S readers appreciate the extremely rude meaning of the words “gobbler’s knob” in English English?

    I won’t explain – a certain snip.

  68. (Do they make a rabies vaccine for groundhogs? Just wondering.)

    Sure… more important though – do people get rabies vaccination before meeting with the IPPC, United Nation staff, or Leftists in general?

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