Groundhog Day Update: Phil Says ‘Long Winter,’ But Did He Get It Wrong?

Today marks another year of one of America’s oldest, and arguably oddest, traditions. It’s Groundhog Day, which means it is the day that U.S. citizens turn to good old Punxsutawney Phil to tell us whether we will be stuck with a long winter or graced with an early spring.

Well, we’re sad to say that Phil woke up, saw his shadow, and headed back to bed. What does that mean? A long winter is still ahead of us.

Many people cheered on Phil while they waited for his proclamation. Some people even shouted that they loved him, NBC reported. That was, of course, before they heard that he’d seen his shadow.

“A perfect clear shadow of me, six more weeks of winter it shall be,” Phil proclaimed.

AccuWeather weighed in on the subject, backing up the groundhog’s prediction. According to them, meteorologists are saying that six more weeks of winter look very likely. AccuWeather Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said that the Northeast would get warmer weather, but it’ll probably need to wait until late April or early May. As far as folks in the northern Midwest are concerned, Pastelok’s claim makes sense. After all, a report released last week by MLive claimed that Michigan has barely seen the sun since December.

While the weather source seems confident supporting the Groundhog Day prediction, The Washington Post suggested that Phil may, in fact, be wrong.

They said that spring has already begun. Apparently, this is evident in the fact that many areas of the USA, including some northern regions, have experienced warmer weather than is normal in January, the news source claimed.

“In the last two weeks of January, we tracked a record-long warm streak in Washington, D.C. — it didn’t drop below 32 degrees for 19 days in a row, which is the longest in the month of January. Last month was the second-warmest January since 2000 and the 12th-warmest overall for the capital.”

As for the Southeast, they have had weather that is at least 20 degrees above the average for this time of year. Arkansas has had a warmer and drier winter than usual, Arkansas Matters reported, meaning that duck hunting season is nearing an early end. As for Mississippi, their January was also significantly warmer, according to WMC Action News.

“Temperatures were also much warmer than normal for much of the month. In fact, this year ranked in Biloxi’s top 20 hottest Januarys. For 17 days of the month, Gulfport saw temperatures that were warmer than 70 degrees.”

It is normal for many areas of the Southeast and southern Midwest to have temperatures of 40 to 50 degrees in January. Also, these areas naturally get an earlier spring than the more northern states. Temperatures rise in February and March while daffodils begin to bloom and people pull out their summer clothes. But 70-degree weather in January is not the norm.

The Washington Post also noted that Punxsutawney Phil had predicted incorrectly in the past.

“In 2013, Phil issued a forecast for an early spring, but bitter cold and snow gripped the eastern United States into March that year. The prosecuting attorney in Butler County, Ohio, went as far as to seek the death penalty for Phil for ‘misrepresentation of early spring.’”

So who is to say that he is right this time? In the end, only time will tell if the Groundhog Day prediction is true.

[Featured Image by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images]