~ A bit of joie de vivre, a comprehensive joy of life, with an occasional edge.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Weather Prediction

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008 - It's official: Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so there will be six more weeks of winter!

America's most famous groundhog emerged from his burrow his shadow shortly before 7:30 AM, saw his shadow, and that means that winter will last another six weeks. This occurred before a crowd of more than 30,000 people from as far away as Alaska and Texas, one of the largest crowds in the 122-year history of the event in the central Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney. 

Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of winter.
According to lore, if the groundhog emerges from his burrow on February 2nd and sees his shadow, he will be frightened back into his hole, signifying another six weeks of winter. If it's a cloudy day, and no shadow, that means that means winter will end early. As luck would have it, the crappy weather of the preceding few days gave way to glorious sunshine.

Phil was taken out of a tree stump on a hill called Gobbler's Knob, and delivered his profound thought to William Cooper, President of Punxsutawney's Inner Circle, who organizers say is the only person in the world who can speak Groundhogese (the official language of the groundhogs). 

Cooper read a scroll containing the groundhog's prediction. It said: "As I look around me, a bright sky I see, and a shadow beside me. Six more weeks of winter it will be."

According to the tradition that may have links with the European festival of Candlemas, if the groundhog sees his shadow, it will mean six more weeks of winter. If not, there will be an early spring. This tradition may have been brought to the United States by German immigrants.

Here are the facts (with maybe a little fiction) regarding Groundhog Day:

  • Punxsutawney Phil weighs 20 pounds (9 kg) and is 22 inches long. Although groundhogs live for six to eight years, legend has it that Phil, who is named after King Philip, has been making predictions for over 120 years now, thanks to a magic elixir that he drinks every summer to get seven more years of life.
  • Groundhog, woodchuck, land beaver, and whistlepig are all names for the same rodent, the Marmota monax. Related to the squirrel, for the most part they eat green plants like dandelion, clover and grasses. They grow to weigh roughly five to nine pounds (2 to 4 kg) in the wild, but can grow much bigger in areas with fewer natural predators. 
  • Like many similar animals, groundhogs hibernate during the winter. They often emerge from their underground burrows in early February, when Groundhog Day is marked.
  • The groundhog has not seen his shadow only 14 times since 1887, compared to 96 times when he saw his shadow. There were no records in nine of the early years.
  • The buildup of marking this special day formed the basis of the 1993 film Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott.

More info and photos at the official Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, and don't miss the FAQ about this internationally famous celebration.

And don't blame me about the prediction for six more weeks of winter... I'm only the messenger.

Note: Posted later on Buzznet, with comments.

1 comment:

Heartsapocolypse said...

Who knew there was so much to learn about Groundhogs! Six more weeks of winter means six more weeks of winter knitting, not to mention cuddling on the couch and hot cocoa in the evenings.