Depending on where you live in the Northern Hemisphere, this year's winter has either been really mild or extremely harsh. Either way, the news from legendary groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, is not very good.
When the famous woodchuck was pulled out of his burrow in Gobbler's Nob, Pennsylvania this morning by two handlers donned in tuxedos and top hats, he surveyed his surroundings carefully and unfortunately, saw his shadow, indicating that winter is likely to continue for at least another six weeks!
However, for those who do not like cold dreary winters, here is some good news. Phil's competitor, the relatively young Staten Island Chuck, did not see his shadow and was happy to just hang with New York's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg and watch the crowd cheer at his prediction.
So whom should one believe - The veteran who has been doing this over a century or the novice who has only 30 years of experience under his belt? If weather experts are to be trusted the legendary Phil has been right only 39% of the time during the last 111 years. However the folks at Punxsutawney, PA, beg to differ - They maintain that Phil has never been wrong. Chuck on the other hand, has an 80% accuracy rate that nobody seems to dispute. We will all just have to wait until March 20th to find out which groundhog has the real insight.
While there are many groundhogs and even an armadillo (in Texas) that make weather predictions, Punxsutawney Phil is the most famous. That's because according to local folklore, Phil, kept alive by a magic potion, is 125 years old and has been predicting the weather for over 111 years. The little critter is also known internationally, thanks to his role in the 1993 movie, 'Groundhog Day'.
Groundhogs, also called Woodchucks, Land Beavers or Whistle Pigs are the largest members of the squirrel family. They grow between 17-26 inches in length and can weigh up to 4lbs. Unlike Phil, these largely herbivorous animals have a lifespan of between 6-8 years in the wild.
Happy Groundhog Day!
Resources:wikipedia.org, ksla.com, syracuse.com