Every year on Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil wakes up and goes outside to see his shadow. Phil’s shadow predicts what the weather will be like for the next six weeks. Folklore suggests that if it’s a cloudy day, then the groundhog will leave his burrow, signaling that spring is coming soon. If it’s sunny outside, then the animal will see his shadow and go back into his burrow, meaning that there will be six more weeks of winter. Phil might get his prediction wrong this year, since his forecast was not accurate in the past.
The National Climate Data Center in Ashville North Carolina says that the animal does not actually possess the talent to predict the weather and other groundhogs that also predict the weather were not any better. The Data Center found that from 1988 to 2012 the animal was wrong more than right; he was correct 10 times and wrong 15 times. Last year, Phil did not see his shadow, which meant there should have been an early spring. This did not happen because of the differences in the weather between February and March; it was warmer in February but colder in March. The weather prediction for this year’s Groundhog Day is possible clouds, which means he might get his prediction wrong. However, since the groundhog is fussy, no one is sure how he will act.
Phil is not the only groundhog who predicts the weather on Feb. 2nd; Woody, from Michigan, is Phil’s competition. She is actually better than Phil at weather predictions; she has predicted the correct forecast 11 out of 15 times since 1999. Phil’s has other competition aside from Woody. West Virginia has French Creek Freddie, Georgia has General Beauregard Lee, Ohio’s groundhog is Buckeye Chuck and North Carolina’s hog is Sir Wally Wally. In Alabama, their ground hog is named Smith Lake Jake. In New York, their groundhog is named Charles G. Hogg or Chuck.
The furry predictor has his own two-day celebration in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Visitors can take part in various activities, which include a hay ride, scavenger hunt, a costume contest for children, whittling demonstrations, and watch the movie, Groundhog Day at the local movie theater. People can also buy groundhog merchandise such as groundhog hats and groundhog jerky. The groundhog tradition stems from a German superstition that states if an animal who is in hibernation casts a shadow on February 2nd, a Christian holiday called Candlemas, winter will continue for six more weeks.
Punxsutawney Phil has a big day tomorrow; he is up against the attention of the Super Bowl as well as other weather predicting groundhogs. This is the first year Groundhog Day will be on the same day as the Super Bowl; this collision has only come close once. In 2009, both events were close to meeting, when the Arizona Cardinals were beat by the Pittsburgh Steelers the night of February 1. He also has to beat Woody’s prediction record since she has predicted it more times then he has. Even if Phil might get this year’s prediction wrong, he will be ready for Groundhog Day.
By Jordan Bonte