Are rodents reliable meteorologists?
This past Sunday, Feb. 2, many tuned in to watch one of the greatest spectacles of the year, an American pastime in which people eagerly gather together. Yes, I am talking about Groundhogs day. Were you expecting something different?
On this day, people wait for a groundhog to emerge from its burrow. If it see its shadow because of clear skies, there is suddenly six more weeks of winter and it goes back to its den. If it does not see its shadow because of clouds and such, spring arrives early. Because we all know the vernal equinox, depending on the sun’s interaction with the equator, listens and reacts accordingly to the chattering of an animal.
And when I say animal, I mean animals. There are so many groundhogs that are used. I wonder how they converse and decide which prophecy is going to be told to the sun. Punxsutawney Phil, of Punxsutawney Pennsylvania, is the most widely known groundhog because there has “only ever been one,” and he’s been alive and forecasting to us for over 130 years, in defiance of the average lifespan of a groundhog being about 10. He definitely did not use his sip from the elixir of life to go to school to study meteorology though because, according to Stormfax Almanac’s data, he only has a 39 percent accuracy.
You could flip a coin and be more accurate. Starting in 1887, Punxsutawney Phil has predicted 103 forecasts of more winter and 20 early springs, including this year, with nine years that somehow just didn’t happen, says the Groundhog Club’s records.
Maybe, just maybe, he runs back to his den each year because of the large crowds, not the weather.
“Brother” of Punxsutawney Phil, Potomac Phil had a different prediction. He said there will be six more weeks of winter and six more months of political gridlock because apparently anyone can be a politician these days. Did I mention that he’s also a taxidermy groundhog? He literally can’t move. But yes, let’s have hundreds of people flock to the capitol to be told by a stuffed animal there’s going to be more political unrest. Who could have guessed it?
In addition to those opposing brothers, there is Staten Island Chuck who predicted an early spring, Jimmy the Groundhog who predicted more winter, Buckeye Chuck who predicted an early spring, General Beauregard Lee who predicted more winter, Dunkirk Dave who predicted an early spring, Sir Walter Wally predicted more winter, Grover the Groundhog predicted an early spring and Pierre C. Shadeaux predicted more winter.
If you can’t tell by all the different predictions, there is no correlation. They are completely random. What do you expect from something based on a superstition though?
Groundhog Day fades into obscurity as just one of those other random holidays that everyone forgets about until it randomly appears on your phone calendar or you scroll past it on Facebook. I’m pretty sure most only remembered its existence this year because of the Jeep commercial starring Bill Murray that aired during the Super Bowl.
Even so, while forgotten most of the year, Groundhogs Day will live on as a fun holiday to blame or thank when the weather is acting up. As foolish and inaccurate as it is, it brings hope of either more snow days or finally getting to the warm days, whatever kind of person you are. In the crazy world we live in, every little bit of hope and weirdness is needed.
~Vivianna Atkins, Staff Writer~