MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) — Sunday was Groundhog Day, that fateful holiday when meteorologists must answer to a rodent and its shadow (or lack thereof). Our very own Jimmy the Groundhog saw his shadow earlier, predicting six more weeks of winter. If it’s anything like this winter’s been going, it shouldn’t be too bad.
When it comes to the nations groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, like it or not, he has been predicting earlier springs more often—14 times in the past 50 years, after only 5 times in the 73 years prior. While Phil’s year-to-year predictions are faring worse than a coin flip, his shift toward earlier springs may be onto something; the six weeks after Groundhog Day are warming up in 93% of the 244 cities analyzed. This year is no exception, with leaves appearing in the Southeast weeks before normal. Early springs do come at a cost, from early pest outbreaks and mistimed migrations to emboldened groundhogs.
Temperature trends plot data from the Applied Climate Information System, based on a mathematical linear regression. Groundhog Day graphics plot the average temperature between February 2 and March 16.