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Is Punxsutawney Phil's prediction wrong this year?

| Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, 5:04 p.m.
Traffic moves slowly along Route 51 North near Perry Township after a snow squall moves through the area. Evan Sanders | Daily Courier

Will Punxsutawney Phil be wrong this year in his weather prediction?

The famous furry forecaster predicted Saturday that spring may be around the corner. The groundhog did not see his shadow, thus predicting a short winter season and early spring.

A tradition that began in 1887, Phil has not seen his shadow only 16 times since then, for a total of 13.8 percent of the time. But the big question is, how reliable is he?

The famous groundhog has been correct only 39 percent of the time and has missed the mark the past three years.

In 2010, he saw his shadow, but we had mild conditions.

“There was a lot of snow in February, so he was right for four weeks, but it got really warm in March,” AccuWeather meteorologist Jack Boston said. “In March, all of a sudden, it turned warm and stayed that way. It was in the low 70s on March 21 (first day of spring).”

In 2011, the groundhog did not see his shadow. But that prediction was wrong as well.

“The temperatures were slightly above normal in February, but March, there was snow back and forth so there was not an early spring,” Boston said.

Last year, Phil saw his shadow. According to the National Regional Climate Center, the span from January to June 2012 was the warmest seven-month stretch of winter and spring recorded since systematic records began being kept in 1895.

“Well, he was definitely wrong last year,” Boston said.

So will Phil be correct this year?

Presently, with the predications from the National Weather Service, the answer at the time is no.

“We are looking at temperatures that are going to be well below normal and an above average snowfall for the month,” Boston said.

The average high temperature for February is 39 degrees with an average low of 23 and average snowfall for the area for February is 10 inches.

“In March, temperatures will be near normal and snowfall will be near normal, and winter is still going to be here,” Boston said.

March highs are averaged at 49 with lows of 30 degrees, and average snowfall is 7.6 inches.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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