Despite a history of respect and partnership, leaders from Canada and the United States often disagree on policy issues and plans for the future. This year is no different. Of course, I am talking about the sharp contrast in prediction from Punxsutawney Phil and Ontario’s own Wiarton Willie on the outlook for an early spring versus continued cold winter temperatures.
On February 1, I was home alone with the kids while my wife was on the road for business. We decided to watch a movie and Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray was trending on Apple TV. I immediately convinced Caira and Ethan that this was worth watching. They loved it, and I was reminded how funny it is. I bring this up because this year the movie got us in the rodent meteorology prediction mood. We all woke up the next morning eager to hear what Punxsutawney Phil and Wiarton Willie had to say.
This Groundhog Day, hundreds of miles apart, with no awkward handshake stealing the headlines, the two most famous rodents made their bold and differing opinions known. Phil saw his shadow, all the evidence he requires to predict that a longer winter season would ensue while Willie saw no hint of his shadow and claimed in six short weeks an early spring was imminent.
Fast forward a month and it sure seems that Willie got this one right. Last week the temperatures hit plus 18 Celsius in Toronto. In fact, it was the warmest day ever recorded in February! The temperatures have remained well above average and it definitely feels like an early spring. It got me thinking, “How accurate are these furry prognosticators?”
If you read their respective websites they are all amazingly accurate and would make any meteorologist green with envy. They claim that the rodents’ forecasts are accurate 75 to 90 percent of the time. Digging a little deeper though, like the “see my shadow” method of predicting the weather, this data might not be too reliable.
Many have analyzed the meteorological records, and they appear to indicate 75 to 90 percent is high. Very high. Punxsutawney Phil and his blood line, now in celebrating their 130th year of prognostication, are closer to 40 percent accuracy according to a study of actual weather patterns versus the average. What about Wiarton Willie? He seems to have nailed 2017, but that fact could be even rarer. His batting average is even worse than Phil’s at 37 percent based on several decades of data.
To my knowledge, Las Vegas odds makers have not opened up the predictions to wager on, but the closest thing to a sure bet would be to bet against these famous rodents.
How much stock do you put in the predictions made on Groundhog Day?