Groundhog Day often serves to help Canadians breathe a sigh of relief.
After all, the prospect of an early spring is news that just about anyone could use. But it turns out we’ve been going about the tradition all wrong. See, we should actually be betting against the groundhogs.
Tradition dictates that if a groundhog sees its shadow, there will be another six weeks of winter. If not, spring is coming early. But Historica Canada cited a study which found that Canada’s favourite furry forecasters, like Ontario’s Wiarton Willie and Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam, are only correct about 37 per cent of the time. In fact, those two groundhogs have already issued contradictory predictions.
Which means someone has to be a dirty liar.
The study looked at weather data matched against groundhog predictions for 13 Canadian cities over “several decades.” It found that Yellowknife’s groundhog has the highest success rate, serving up accurate predictions a paltry 50 per cent of the time (odds are one in two, after all). The rodent least likely to predict spring would be Edmonton’s groundhog at 26 per cent.
The same is true south of the border. In a study conducted by the Washington Post, staff found that Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil was “technically right more times than not in some cities,” but that “much like how you won your last coin toss, Phil is ‘right’ in these regions because of chance.”
In other words, never trust a rodent with your weather forecast.