NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Staten Island Chuck “predicted” an early spring while Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, called for six more weeks of winter after seeing his shadow.
Cheers erupted as Chuck, taking the moment in stride, emerged Thursday morning at the Staten Island Zoo with no symbolic shadow in sight.
According to the Staten Island Zoo, Chuck has an 80 percent accuracy rate.
Punxsutawney Phil said otherwise. Phil’s handlers say that furry rodent has predicted six more weeks of winter after seeing his shadow.
Records dating to 1887 show Phil has now predicted more winter 103 times while forecasting an early spring just 18 times, including last year. There are no records for the remaining years.
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There was one more prognosticator who wanted to share his view — Essex Ed.
“He came out and saw his shadow this morning,” said Caitlin Sharp with the Turtle Back Zoo.
“It’s wonderful lore. It gets people out of the winter doldrums,” said Dr. Dave Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers University.
Of course, there is no science or skill behind it, according to Robinson.
“You’re better off flipping a coin,” he said.
Or having an educated, scientifically-based discussion about what we can expect over the next six weeks or so, which is why CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock sat down with Robinson, who admitted “it’s very difficult to look six weeks ahead.”
But they can try to do a better job than a groundhog.
“The winter’s warmer than average, January was not quite top-10 warmest,” Robinson said.
It was above normal by more than five degrees.
“Persistence rules,” Robinson said.
That means he will side with Staten Island Chuck. So does Murdock.
The festivities have their origin in a German legend that says if a furry rodent casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter continues. If not, spring comes early.
Today, it’s celebrated in Canada too. At least 16 groundhogs across both countries weighed in on whether or not we’d see an early spring.
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