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.

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


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


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

Finally. Research we can trust.


” …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 ?

P Wilson

Here’s a regular solar forecaster to the BBC’s weather pages


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

Steve Goddard

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.


“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.

Erik Anderson

At least this Phil works with the raw data.


Now there is a happy looking groundhog! You can see it in his eyes!
(Do they make a rabies vaccine for groundhogs? Just wondering.)


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!

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

P Wilson

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.


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.)


Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast has not been Peer Reviewed!


“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….

Skeptic Tank

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.

Punxsutawney Phil is obviously not on the payroll!

Myron Mesecke

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?

Phillip Bratby

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?


Punxsutawney Phil is in the pocket of big oil. What a shill!


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.”


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?

George E. Smith

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 !)


Could Punxsutawney Phil please tell me if we’re in for a barbecue summer?

Richard Heg

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?

James Chamberlain

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.

Buffy Minton

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…..”


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?


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!

Steve in SC

Punxsutawney Phil >> East Anglia Phil.

John R. Walker

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…


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.


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.


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.


“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.

View from the Solent

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”?


Follow this old link if you want a good laugh.

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.


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

John Galt

I thought they replaced Phil with the gopher from “Caddyshack.”


I have no confidence in the predictive skills of that rodent called Phil.
However that groundhog sounds believable.

Time for all the Grounhog deniers to come out and protest. Where’s Mann and Jones when we need them?
Wonder what Algore thinks…


A rather garbled piece. Is it really saying that Jones work was corroborated by a later study – by Jones?
Climate scientist at centre of email row defends his research


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?

….balanced by a live leading item on mainstream UK TV, Channel 4 has Lord Lawson vs DEFRA Chief Scientist. Lord Lawson wins with a points victory and does no end of damage to AGW. It was live so wait awhile for an update or watch repeat on

Frank K.

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.

Peter Miller

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.