Punxsutawney Phil

Oh No Not Again!

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Our recent winter storm wasn’t much of a storm. The Valley floor saw a rain/snow mix, but it didn’t pile up on the ground. Some of the more outlying areas and the higher hills did see some snow accumulation, but nothing that could be described as a serious winter storm. There is one event that can put a smile on the face of even the grumpiest Winter storm hater and that takes place just once a year. As a matter of fact it just occurred. That is Groundhog Day. Somehow watching this furry critter being held up and revered as a weather prognosticator brings a smile and often a laugh to most of us. I’m not sure everyone knows how it all got started so I decided to use this column to give you the detailed information.

According to Wikipedia “Groundhog Day (Canadian French: Jour de la Marmot; Pennsylvania German: Grundsaudaag, Murmeltiertag) is a traditional holiday originating in the United States that is celebrated on February 2. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then the spring season will arrive early, sometime before the the vernal equinox; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, and winter weather will persist for six more weeks.”

The definition only explains what Groundhog Day is, but not how it started. I’ll rely on history.com for the origin of this celebration. Apparently the idea started with Candlemas Day which is an ancient Christian tradition in which candles that were blessed by the clergy were given to the people representing the length and severity of the winter to come. It seems the Germans ran with that idea adding a hedgehog as the critter that would actually predict the severity and length or lack of same the rest of the winter season.

What about how the event came to America? History.com says “Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.”

Marmota Monax (Groundhog) | Photo by discover life.org

Marmota monax is the scientific name for the groundhog which is often called a woodchuck. Here is when the celebration began. Again history.com: “In 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog. The line of groundhogs that have since been known as Phil might be America’s most famous groundhogs, but other towns across North America now have their own weather-forecasting rodents, from Birmingham Bill to Staten Island Chuck to Shubenacdie Sam in Canada.”

Now that you have the background information it’s time for my annual Groundhog Report. I am using results from as many varied groundhog reports as I can find. With the COVID-19 Pandemic restrictions the usual crowds were not there to witness the formal events. Only the press with their cameras were allowed to be there along with the local officials.

The Prediction Proclamation | Photo by CNN

Let’s start with Punxsutawney Phil who this year is reported to have seen his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter. Here is his official web page. Two things come into question here. First, it was cloudy and snowing so it would be impossible to see your shadow and secondly the actual decision is made the night before by a specially designated group of people. Also Phil’s been wrong before.

General Lee
General Beauregard Lee Atlanta, GA | Photo by Georgia Tech News

General Beauregard Lee from Atlanta, Georgia did not see his shadow meaning an early spring is on the way. His web official web page is www.yellowrivergameranch.com.

Malverne Mel
Photo by Rosanno Weitecamp lihearld.com

Next we check out Malverne Mel from Long Island, New York. He did not see his shadow.

Holtsville Hal
Holtsville Hal | Image by News !2 Long Island

Holtsville Hal did not see his shadow in Brooklyn, New York predicting early spring.

Now on to Staten Island Chuck, from where else but Staten Island, New York, predicted an early spring due to the fact that he did not see his shadow.

For some unknown reason New York State has a plethora of groundhogs. Dunkirk Dave from Dunkirk, New York did not see his shadow so he joins in with the early spring crowd.

Buckeye Chuck
Buckeye Chuck | Photo by the Rempe Family through A & HT

Next in line is Buckeye Chuck resides in Marion, Ohio and at 7:40 a.m. February 2nd he did not see his shadow predicting an early spring.

Sir Walter Wally resides in Raleigh, North Carolina did not see his shadow so he predicts an early spring.

We have two foreign groundhog reports. The one that I have used for many years is Wiarton Willie from Ontario, Canada. Willie did not see his shadow predicting an early spring. The other Canadian groundhog is Shubenacadie Sam from Nova Scotia and he didn’t see his shadow either keeping with the early spring prediction.

Now we come to the last and for us the most important groundhog, Spencer Butte Bob who is my personal prognosticator. Bob had a difficult time deciding this year. One minute it was overcast so he couldn’t see his shadow and the next minute the sun peeked out producing a shadow. We left it up to Bob to make the final decision and he concurs with the majority that we will have an early spring.

Spencer Butte Bob, The South Hills Groundhog | Photo by Tim Chuey

Now that we have heard from a large group of groundhogs let’s tally up the two sides. We have eleven reports with ten predicting an early spring and only one predicting 6 more weeks of winter. If you flip a coin the odds of getting heads or correctly predicting the weather for the next 6 weeks are the same. Personally if these predictions really mean anything I’d pick Spencer Butte Bob’s prediction of an early spring because he is here in Eugene, Oregon’s South Hills.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Is He Right Or Wrong This Year? And Does It Really Matter?

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The skiers have been loving it, but for valley residents this has been a pretty bad Winter so far. We had an ice storm in December to end 2016 and another one with snow and then ice in the month of January to begin 2017. Trees, power lines, homes and even vehicles suffered damage from the weight of the ice. Many of us were without electricity during one or both of the storms. The most stressful thing to me is that Winter isn’t anywhere near being over yet. There is still plenty of time for us to see freezing rain, sleet and snow that can greatly complicate our lives. We had some icy streets Friday February 3rd, but not a major ice storm. During a storm just to our north on Sunday February 5th they saw snow in Seattle.

There is one event that can put a smile on the face of even the grumpiest Winter storm hater and that takes place just once a year. As a matter of fact it was just this past week. That is Groundhog Day. Somehow watching this furry critter being held up and revered as a weather prognosticator brings a smile and often a laugh to most of us. I’m not sure everyone knows how it all got started so I decided to use this column to give you the detailed information.

According to my old standby Wikipedia “Groundhog Day (Canadian French: Jour de la Marmot; Pennsylvania German: Grundsaudaag, Murmeltiertag) is a traditional holiday originating in the United States that is celebrated on February 2. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then the spring season will arrive early, sometime before the the vernal equinox; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, and winter weather will persist for six more weeks.”

The definition only explains what Groundhog Day is, but not how it started. I’ll rely on history.com for the origin of this celebration. Apparently the idea started with Candlemas Day which is an ancient Christian tradition in which candles that were blessed by the clergy were given to the people representing the length and severity of the winter to come. It seems the Germans ran with that idea adding a hedgehog as the critter that would actually predict the severity and length or lack of same the rest of the winter season.

What about how the event came to America? History.com says “Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.”

Marmota Monax (Groundhog) | Photo by discover life.org

Marmota monax is the scientific name for the groundhog which is often called a woodchuck. Here is when the celebration began. Again history.com: “In 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog. The line of groundhogs that have since been known as Phil might be America’s most famous groundhogs, but other towns across North America now have their own weather-forecasting rodents, from Birmingham Bill to Staten Island Chuck to Shubenacdie Sam in Canada.”

Now that you have the background information it’s time for my annual Groundhog Report. I usually post this as a short report separate from my column, but this time I will expand on it and add as many varied groundhog reports as I can find.

Punxsutawney Phil | Photo by zapit.com

Let’s start with Punxsutawney Phil who this year is reported to have seen his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter. Here is his official web page. Two things come into question here. First, with all of the lights for the television cameras how could he not see his shadow and secondly the actual decision is made the night before by a specially designated group of people. Also Phil’s been wrong before.

 

General Lee
General Beauregard Lee Atlanta, GA | Photo by Georgia Tech News

General Beauregard Lee from Atlanta, Georgia did not see his shadow meaning an early spring is on the way. His web official web page is www.yellowrivergameranch.com.

Malverne Mel
Photo by Rosanno Weitecamp lihearld.com

Next we check out Malvern Mel from Long Island, New York. Nearly 300 people gathered at Reese Park to witness Mel’s prediction of an early spring since he did not see his shadow.

Holtsville Hal
Holtsville Hal | Image by News !2 Long Island

Holtsville Hal did see his shadow in Brooklyn, New York predicting 6 more weeks of winter.

Now on to Staten Island Chuck, from where else but Staten Island, New York, predicted an early spring due to the fact that he did not see his shadow.

For some unknown reason New York State has a plethora of groundhogs. Dunkirk Dave from Dunkirk, New York did see his shadow so he joins in with the long winter crowd.

Buckeye Chuck
Buckeye Chuck | Photo by the Rempe Family through A & HT

Next in line is Buckeye Chuck resides in Marion, Ohio and at 7:40 a.m. February 2nd he did see his shadow predicting 6 more weeks of winter.

Sir Walter Wally resides in Raleigh, North Carolina did not see his shadow so he predicts an early spring.

We have two foreign groundhog reports. The one that I have used for many years is Wiarton Willie from Ontario, Canada. Willie did not see his shadow predicting an early spring. The other Canadian groundhog is Shubenacadie Sam from Nova Scotia and he didn’t see his shadow either keeping with the early spring prediction.

Now we come to the last, and for us the most important groundhog, Spencer Butte Bob who is my personal prognosticator. Bob did not see his shadow so that puts him in the category of predicting an early spring.

Spencer Butte Bob, The South Hills Groundhog | Photo by Tim Chuey

Now that we have heard from a large group of groundhogs let’s tally up the two sides. We have ten reports and the split with 6 predicting an early spring and 4 predicting 6 more weeks of winter. If you flip a coin the odds of getting heads or correctly predicting the weather for the next 6 weeks are the same. Personally if these predictions really mean anything I’d pick Spencer Butte Bob’s prediction of an early spring because he is here in Eugene, Oregon’s South Hills.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Groundhog Day Results.

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Many people were glued to their TV screens to watch the Super Bowl yesterday, but early in the morning groundhogs were preparing their forecasts. Today was Groundhog Day and I checked in with many of the groundhogs to see what they had for a forecast.

Punxsutawney Phil | Image ww.skeptic.com
Punxsutawney Phil | Image ww.skeptic.com

The most famous groundhog”Punxsutawney Phil” led the group that saw their shadow predicting 6 more weeks of Winter. The others in that group are Malverne Mel, Holtsville Hal, and Sun Prairie Jimmy. Those not seeing their shadow predicting an early Spring are Staten Island Chuck, General Lee, Buckeye Chuck, Sir Walter Wally, and Dunkirk Dave. Even Wiarton Willie from Ontario Canada predicted an early spring by not seeing his shadow. That’s 6 to 4 in favor of an early Spring.

The one groundhog who I haven’t mentioned is Spencer Butte Bob, my personal groundhog (Actually a plaster statue). It was overcast and dark this morning so Bob did not see his shadow predicting an early spring. Bob changes the ratio to 7 to 4 in favor of an early spring. I don’t know about you but I’d rather trust a prediction from a resident of the Pacific Northwest that any of the other groundhogs from elsewhere. Remember, these predictions are about as accurate as flipping a coin, but it is fun to check this out each year.

Groundhog Day Results

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Annual Groundhog's Day Ritual Held In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania | Photo by pix11.com
Annual Groundhog’s Day Ritual Held In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania | Photo by pix11.com

Many people were glued to their TV screens to watch the Super Bowl, but early in the morning groundhogs were preparing their forecasts. Today was Groundhog Day and I checked in with many of the groundhogs to see what they had for a forecast. The most famous groundhog”Punxsutawney Phil” led the group that saw there shadow predicting 6 more weeks of Winter. The others in that group are Sun Prairie Jimmy, and Staten Island Chuck. Those not seeing their shadow predicting an early Spring are Malverne Mel, Holtsville Hal, General Lee, and Buckeye Chuck. That’s 4 to 3 in favor of an early Spring. The one groundhog who I haven’t mentioned is Spencer Butte Bob, my personal groundhog. It was bright and sunny this morning so Bob saw his shadow predicting another 6 weeks of winter. Remember, these predictions are about as accurate as flipping a coin, but it is fun to check this out each year.

Gobblers Knob isn’t the only place with a groundhog tradition, Staten Island likes to do their own. This year was a little different.