February 3, 2013

Punxsutawney Phil’s Portent Prediction

Happy Belated Groundhog Day! Yesterday marked a day in history loved by many, when that pesky little groundhog arises from the ground to make the world famous forecast. So many people are, asking did Phil have good news or bad news? This year Phil brought to our attention that he didn’t see his shadow, meaning that winter is about to be over, per the folklore. However, Mr. Phil, I’ve got some interesting news for you. I think this year you could be wrong. The way things are lining up in the atmosphere, we may very easily have well over six weeks left of winter for many places in the country.

So how did this start? It started in a town called Punxsutawney, PA with the ceremony first being held in the year 1887 (at least that’s when the record keeping began). The rodent has been predicting the end of winter ever since.

This leads me to wonder how many times he has seen his shadow and how many times he has not, so I decided to check out the official website, where they have been keeping Phil’s records since 1887. The findings are that there have been many years with no recorded data, along with many shadow years and no shadow years. So, to get a correct answer, we had to add them up. Luckily the website does that at the bottom and here are the findings: 98 years recorded of seeing his shadow, along with 15 years of no shadow and ten years with no record keeping (results listed were through 2009).

This tradition will continue to get attention every year, as Phil has his own part of town (known as the Gobbler’s Knob) that is specifically dedicated to this event. Every year, hundreds gather for the ceremony and anxiously await Phil’s predictions.

A significant event that has taken place here is not only the change of groundhogs, but also as recently as 2009, the Inner Circle President Bill Cooper completed his last reading and retired. As of the 2010 ceremony, the new Inner Circle President, Bill Deeley, has taken over the roll as president of the club.

By the way, the website has also got many more interesting facts and research about little Phil.

As a weatherman myself, I can tell you that it’s fun to have traditions like this, but it’s also important to know that it’s just that: a tradition. So, if you are one of those groundhog followers, be careful making life decisions based on Phil’s prognostication. He’s just a groundhog that has gotten a lot of American love.

Image Credit: Alan Freed /

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