Our four-legged friend only got the prediction “correct” about 40% of the time – meaning you’d be lucky if you flipped a coin.
GOBBLER’S KNOB, PA — Another Groundhog Day is upon us. In case you missed it, the world famous groundhog of Punxsotoni, Phil, is calling for six more weeks of winter. But why do we trust the winter forecast to a nice plump rodent? Let’s get down and dirty.
Groundhog Day was celebrated for the first time in 1887, although it is believed that this tradition goes back even further. The second day of February was chosen because it is midway between the winter solstice in December and the vernal equinox in March. German immigrants believed that a sunny February 2nd, known to them as “The Holiday”, meant 40 more days of ice and snow.
So that there is no disagreement about whether it is a sunny day or not, it is up to small mammals to decide – that is, whether they can see their shadows or not.
Fast forward nearly 140 years, and Punxsotaoni Phil has built quite a track record for himself. But it’s not perfect. In fact, far from it. Our four-legged friend only got the prediction “correct” about 40% of the time – meaning you’d be lucky if you flipped a coin.
In addition, animal welfare groups have raised questions about the practice. They claim the tradition interrupts hibernation cycles and scares groundhogs away. Many of them are kept in enclosures throughout the year, which prevents them from burrowing and creating a natural home.
So…unfortunately, our friend Phil can’t be trusted to give you your weather forecast. Instead, put your faith in your favorite mammal meteorologists here at WCCB!
How accurate is Phil Punxsuthony?
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