Tired of winter? Then, you will be delighted to know that spring is around the corner. On February 2, 2024, aka Groundhog Day, legendary woodchuck Punxsutawney Phil failed to see his shadow. This means the year's frosty weather will soon be a distant memory.
As is the case each year, thousands of fans gathered at Gobbler's Knob in the Pennsylvania Wilds to witness the renowned groundhog's prediction. The festivities began at 3:00 am with a party, which included live music, dance performances, and an elaborate fireworks show. At sunrise, two tuxedo-clad members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club gently pulled out the sleepy woodchuck from his burrow. Phil surveyed his surroundings and "whispered" his prediction to the club's president. He stated, "Glad tidings on this Groundhog Day. An early spring is on the way."
Phil's fans assert that the woodchuck has never been wrong since he began making the prophecy in 1887. However, the experts at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center beg to differ. Their analysis indicates that in the past decade, Phil has been right just 30 percent of the time.
But given that Phil has predicted an early spring just 20 times in the past 137 years, he may prove the skeptics wrong. Additionally, his cross-state rival, New York's Staten Island Chuck, who has an undisputed 80 percent accuracy rate, also predicts an early spring.
Groundhog Day was started by German settlers who came to Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries. There are now many weather-forecasting groundhogs and other animals across the country. However, Phil, who is purportedly being kept alive by a magic potion, remains the most popular. The critter is also an international celebrity thanks to his starring role in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day.
Groundhogs are also called land beavers, or whistle pigs. They are the largest members of the squirrel family. The animals can grow between 17-26 inches (43-66 cm) in length and weigh up to 4 pounds (1.8 kg). With the exception of Phil and Chuck, the primarily herbivorous animals live between 6-8 years in the wild.
Happy Groundhog Day!
Resources: groundhogs.org, wikipedia.org, NPR.com