Weather experts react to Punxsutawney Phil prediction

Posted at 6:51 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 11:58:36-05

BOISE, Idaho — Punxsutawney Phil woke up Tuesday and saw his shadow, which means it's time to add six more weeks of winter to the calendar or is it?

The infamous groundhog has about a 40% accuracy rate. Still, Idaho News 6s Chief Meteorologist Scott Dorval says Phil may be on to something.

"Right now, it looks like mid-February, we could have our coldest weather of the year so far. I think Phil is actually pretty much on track this year," says Dorval.

At the National Weather Service in Boise, they use several instruments and pieces of technology to share what to expect in the coming days. Jay Breidenbach, a longtime meteorologist with Boise's National Weather Service, tells us one of the tools they use is called a radiosonde.

"They send that up on a weather balloon and that will send back information on temperature moisture winds above Boise," explains Breidenbach.

Meteorologists don't use shadows to predict six weeks of weather. These days, they rely on their computers and models--something that's changed since Dorval started in the business.

"We were forecasting three days out. Now, we can forecast at seven days with that same accuracy, even up to ten to 15, 16 days."

So if there's anything to take away from this Groundhog Day, Dorval says to wait on putting away those big coats.

"If you've had a mild January, a lot of times you get a colder February, so I'm not saying for sure, but it's been pretty mild this January so I wouldn't write off the winter just yet."