Groundhog Day and the End of Winter
Greystar Green February 1, 2016
Each year thousands of people flock to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to observe Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when the groundhog emerges; spring will come early. If it’s sunny, the groundhog will see its own shadow and return to its burrow for six more weeks of winter. For much of the east coast, winter has been mild and warm. The likelihood of seeing a true winter seemed improbable until the most recent storm hit. Do you think Phil will come out of his burrow and see his own shadow tomorrow? In honor of our furry, predictive friend here are some fun facts.
- Groundhog Day was adopted in the U.S. in 1887. Clymer H. Freas, Punxsutawney’s newspaper editor began promoting the town’s groundhog as the official “Groundhog Day meteorologist.”
- Punxsutawney Phil has reportedly been making predictions for over 125 years. This year will his 130th appearance. This is remarkable as the average lifespan of a groundhog is usually less than six years.
- Groundhogs are real hard sleepers. These furry mammals are known as “true hibernators.” During their dormant state, their body temperature and heart rate fall dramatically. This occurs from late fall until late winter or early spring. Animals that are true hibernators can reduce their body temp below 20 degrees Celsius, whereas other hibernators like bears, only drop their body temp to 30 degrees Celsius.
- Punxsutawney Phil delivers his annual prediction in “groundhogese.” This is then translated by the Inner Circle president of the Groundhog Club.
- Pennsylvania isn’t the only state where Ground Hog Day is highly celebrated. In Alaska, the festival is observed as “Marmot Day,” due to the scarcity of groundhogs there.
- The last time Phil announced it was going to be spring instead of six more weeks of winter, was 2013.
- According to Stormfax, Punxsutawney Phil is only correct 39 percent of the time on his predictions.