Groundhog Day Is Super Bowl Sunday

Groundhog Day, Super Bowl, Sunday, February 2
Since this winter has brought brutal weather to most of the country, the results of Groundhog Day are as highly-anticipated as the results of Super Bowl XLVIII (48). For the first time ever, the two events share the same date: Sunday, February 2, 2014. Many questions will be answered in one 24-hour period: Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow? Is winter going to last six more weeks, or will spring arrive early this year? And, will the Seattle Seahawks or the Denver Broncos walk away as Super Bowl XLVIII champions?

First up, Groundhog Day. The annual tradition stands that Punxsutawney Phil crawls out of his tunnel, after hibernating all winter in his hometown of Punxsutawney, Pennslyvania, and all anxiously await his experience. As the legend goes, if Phil sees his shadow then the world is in for another month and a half of winter, but if the little guy does not see anything when standing atop Gobbler’s Knob, spring will come early. Although the event is happening for the 128th time, the prediction of the seasons is not always accurate. Last year, Punxsutawney Phil and Buckeye Chuck, an additional animal used as a forecaster, each emerged shadowless, yet winter continued on for at least another six weeks.

Will the fact that Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl are the same Sunday, for the first time ever,  work to up the odds of Phil’s, and possibly Chuck’s, prediction? This year’s Super Bowl will take place in New York, despite the weather conditions, with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST on February 2. Each team has been favored to win at one point or another leading up to the game, so is Broncos versus Seahawks as much of a toss up as the winter versus spring prediction?

Luckily Super Bowl kickoff is much later in the day, after all Groundhog Day ceremonies have commenced and Punxsutawney Phil has delivered his predictions, so those who are interested can watch both. By the time Super Bowl XLVIII starts, everyone living in the northern half of the United States (and even as far south as Atlanta and parts of Northern Florida), will know whether the worst is behind them, or if Phil foresees more undesirable weather. Football can commence and the Sunday of many uncertainties can end with a weather projection and a Super Bowl XLVIII champ.

Other than a self-titled, highly successful Hollywood film, Groundhog Day staring Bill Murray, the annual tradition has its own set of fun facts. Here are a few:

  • In 1887, a group of men in Punxsutawney, PA decided to call themselves the Groundhog Punxsutawney Club and named Phil the certified weather forecaster; from there, the tradition was formed.
  • When Phil, who some say is the original groundhog (even though the typical lifespan is only ten years), is not burrowing out to determine weather patterns, he lives at the Groundhog Zoo.
  • The event has become part of the Punxsutawney culture, and continues to receive national attention year after year, but the United States National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reports that Phil is only correct about 40 percent of the time. The statistic is created based on average temperatures in the months of February and March.

Punxsutawney Phil onlookers and believers in the Groundhog Day tradition will be happy to hear that the current weather forecast for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is a high of 31 degrees with cloudy skies around the time of Phil’s emergence. Translation: there is much less chance of Phil seeing his shadow, which means an early spring.

If the weather report holds true, Sunday, February 2, 2014 could start with a Groundhog Day outlook for spring temperatures coming soon and end with a great Super Bowl for the first time ever. With 20,000 people on hand to watch Phil do his thing, and another 80,000 plus fans at MetLife Stadium (home of the New Giants and the New York Jets) for the final game in the NFL season, and of course many more million viewers watching both events at home, the combination of Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl will go down in history as a monumental event.Winter or spring and Broncos or Seahawks for 2014?

By K. Corrine Van Vliet


National Geographic

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