Long Island Groundhogs Disagree on Winter Predictions

Holtsville Hal.

For the first time in five years Long Island groundhogs Holtsville Hal and Malverne Mel disagreed on Groundhog Day over whether there’ll be a longer winter or an early spring.

Mel did not see his shadow on Thursday morning, indicating an early spring, but Hal did see his, suggesting that there will be six more weeks of winter, according to local lore. Hal’s prediction was aligned with the nation’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, who also saw his shadow.

“I could clearly see a beautiful, perfect shadow of me,” Phil’s handler told the crowd gathered in Pennsylvania. “Six more weeks of winter, it shall be!”

Long Island’s groundhog disagreement marks the first time LI’s weather-predicting woodchucks have differed since 2012.

Last year both didn’t see their shadows. In 2015 both saw their shadows. Three years ago they didn’t see their shadows, and in 2013 they did.

But the Groundhog Day divide was not confined to Long Island. It split other well-known woodchucks in the Empire State. Dunkirk Dave, who lives south of Buffalo, saw his shadow. On the other hand, Staten Island Chuck, who makes one of the boroughs his home, did not, a sign of an early spring.

While the accuracy of these rascally rodents is open to debate, the more scientific approach used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center has predicted that the Northeast faces an equal chance that temperatures and precipitation will dip above or below normal this winter.