Animals predict an early spring

It’s Hate Winter Day, officially known as Ground Hog Day. The time of year when rodents, and other animals, are paraded out to predict an early or late spring.

Today, the most famous weather forecaster in the animal world made his prediction. In Gobbler’s Knob in west-central Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil came out of his hole and saw his shadow, meaning winter will not last six more weeks.

It was the same prediction from “Beardsley Bart,” the Prognosticating Prairie Dog, in Bridgeport’s Beardsley Zoo. The news came an in email today from Caryn Kaufman, the zoo’s PR person.

“Beardsley Bart is a very early riser and when he came out this morning, he confirmed that he did not see his shadow,” explained Gregg Dancho, zoo director. “He’s happy to report spring is just around the corner and he looks forward to all his friends coming to visit him soon.”

These weather predicting animals have become come common in recent years. There’s General Beauregard Lee, in Atlanta; Staten Island Chuck, in New York; Sir Walter Wally in North Carolina; and Wiarton Willie, in Wiarton, Ontario.

But are they accurate?

Thankfully, the National Climactic Data Center “Groundhog Day” Web page (no I’m not kidding) provides an analysis of Punxsutawney Phil’s (the “seer of seers” and “sage of sages”) accuracy.

Its conclusion found “no predictive skill for the groundhog during the most recent years.”

But that doesn’t stop new animals and their handlers from getting in the the weather predication game.

“Punxsutawney can’t keep something this big to itself,” the Data Center said. “Other prognosticating rodents are popping up to claim a piece of the action.”

Jim Shay