Groundhog Day Explained

(Photo Credit: Farmers Almanac)

Jesus Cortez


Tomorrow is the day when we find out what the weather will be like for the next six weeks thanks to our rodent friends known as groundhogs. For many students, faculty and staff, it may have been a long time since we last spent time learning about Groundhog Day, so here is a quick refresher on this peculiar observance.

This day is celebrated in the United States and Canada and it happens every year on Feb. 2. The first Groundhog Day occurred on Feb. 2, 1887, at Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Being the first place to celebrate Groundhog Day, they would go on to name who they consider America’s true forecast predictor, Punxsutawney Phil. While there are many other Groundhogs that are named across America like General Beauregard Lee (Georgia) and Staten Island Chuck (New York), Phil remains the most famous.

The folklore involving the shadow is commonly mistaken. If the Groundhog, let’s say Punxsutawney Phil in this instance, sees his shadow tomorrow, we will have another six weeks of cold weather. If Phil pops up and does NOT see his shadow, meaning a cloudy day, we will have an early spring.

Groundhogs go into hibernation in the fall and the males exit hibernation in February to look for a mate, which is when the weather prediction occurs. They then go back into hibernation until March when they come out until the following fall. In terms of weather prediction, studies show that our friend Phil predicts correctly about 39% of the time. However, many, including myself, believe it is due to his performance anxiety (Citation Needed).

Many may question the purpose of this day as being nothing more than a silly observance, which it may ultimately be. However, there certainly is a sense of fun involving our rodent friends. However, it is also important to note that apart from being able to predict our weather for the next six weeks, these guys also possess the power to send us to a never-ending dark void until we learn to appreciate their daytime jobs as weather predictors (Citation needed).