Groundhog says six more weeks of winter?

groundhogHOLT, Fla., Feb. 2, 2017–The weather “prognosticator  of all prognosticators” decided there will be six more weeks of winter beginning today.

Punxsutawney Phil, the resident rodent of Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania, saw his shadow and went back inside his den.

According to legend, if Phil sees his shadow, the United States can expect a longer winter season.

Here in Holt, more cold weather is a bit hard to comprehend.  While the area has experienced some sub-freezing temperatures, those few days have been all but forgotten as area tulip trees burst into bloom, an event usually occurring in the spring.

In Punxsutawney, Phil returned to his home before the sun was actually up in an overcast sky, so weather watchers are scratching their heads wondering what shadow he saw to drive him back inside.

Origins
Groundhog day can be traced back to Celtic celebrations of the mid-point between winter and spring. As people relocated to America, many brought their traditions and customs with them.

Germans were some of Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers. They brought with them their celebration of Candlemas Day, when people would look to badgers to predict an early spring or longer winter. In Pennsylvania, the groundhog rather than the badger, became the weather forecaster.

Phil’s history goes back to the editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper when he declared Phil as America’s weather forecasting furball in 1887. As the story was embellished each year, other newspapers picked it up and the tradition spread.

Accuracy
According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Phil has seen his shadow more often than not, 102 times to 18.

Depending on the source, Phil has been right less than 40 percent of the time during the past 10 years, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

However, his official site claims 75-90 percent accuracy, of course.

Stephanie Holcombe

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