2020 Groundhog Day Trends

Día de la Marmota

Jan 29, 2020

Groundhogs aren’t known for their forecasting prowess, but Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting early springs more often as the climate warms. Coincidence?

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Sunday is Groundhog Day, that fateful holiday when meteorologists must answer to a rodent and its shadow (or lack thereof). Like it or not, Punxsutawney Phil 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. 

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Methodology: Groundhog Day graphics plot the average temperature between February 2 and March 16.

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