It's Groundhog day! That means that people living in the Northern Hemisphere all eagerly tuned in to see what the legendary weather predictor Punxsutawney Phil had to say about the length of this year's dreary winter season. And, he did not disappoint!
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 to everyone's relief, did not see his shadow. This prompted one of Phil's handlers to loudly declare "And so ye faithful, there is no shadow to see, an early Spring for you and me".
And, he was not the only one. His competitor, the relatively young Staten Island Chuck, also sleepily crawled out from his special solar heated cabin at 7.30am EST and failed to see his shadow too - Leading to a lot of cheers from fans and believe it or not even some jeers from those that had been hoping for another six weeks of freezing temperatures. Given that between them they have over 140 years of weather predicting experience should we trust their foresights and begin putting away those heavy winter clothes?
That depends on who you ask. According to human weather experts, the legendary Phil has been right only 39% of the time during his 112 year weather predicting career. 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, the first official day of Spring, to find out whether the groundhogs are right this year.
Groundhog day was started by German settlers that came to Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th century. Since then, the holiday is celebrated across the United States every February 2nd. 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 126 years old and has been predicting the weather for over 112 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. With the exceptions of Phil and Chuck, these largely herbivorous animals have a lifespan of between 6-8 years in the wild.
Happy Groundhog Day!
Resources:wikipedia.org, ksla.com, silive.com,abc.go.com