Spring’s coming early, apparently. The big news flash came Saturday morning in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania when a rodent the size of a bread box stuck its head out of a burrow and didn’t see its own shadow. According to traditions that stretch back to before the 20th century, the rodent (called a “woodchuck” or “groundhog”) can apparently predict six extra weeks of bad weather OR an early spring, and it happens every February 2nd.
The groundhog “Punxsutawney Phil” grew to cult-like status long before the movie Groundhog Day made the best actor in the world adored the world over. The tradition of watching the groundhog like a Doppler radar begins with a Christian holiday called “Candlemas”.
The holiday serves a practical purpose: to tell people it’s finally time to take down your Christmas decorations (and you thought New Year’s Day was too long!) Candlemas is celebrated by taking candles to churches to have them blessed, hoping that it will bring good fortune during the winter. According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club (that link works, I swear!) the tradition eventually included tidings of good weather.
However, since February 2nd is conveniently RIGHT-SMACK-DAB in the middle of the winter solstice and the spring equinox, animals predicting the weather with their erratic behavior is about as efficient as flipping a coin. That means you’re just as likely to see really crappy weather on March 20th (the 1st day of Spring) as you are sunshine and tulips. Phil the groundhog only has about a 40% accurate prediction track record. So, maybe hold that groundhog!
With record temperatures whipping through most of the Midwest that are likely to last until at least next week, it’s hard to say what the weather is going to be like until late March. I’d make a prediction myself, but I’m too busy renting Groundhog Day on my Amazon Prime app. It’s gonna be a good wrap-up to the weekend!
~Ben On The Bull
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