It’s Groundhog Day: How Many More Days of Winter in Newton?
Did Phil see his shadow? Will Newton have six more weeks of winter or an early spring?
Updated 11:19 a.m. with a prediction from our local groundhog, Ms. G.
Groundhog Day and the shadows of spring – it's a ritual for the entire country, based on the antics of a Pennsylvania groundhog named Phil.
Today's the day, Feb. 2, 2013. So, did that groundhog see his shadow and force six more weeks of winter in Newton?
It's going to be an early spring!
According to the official Punxsutawney Groundhog Club website, Punxutawney Phil emerged from his borrow at 7:28 a.m. and saw no shadow.
Unlike her prognosticating friend Punxsutawney Phil, our local groundhog, Ms. G of Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, did see her shadow, forecasting six more weeks of winter. (See video, photos to the right).
So, who should we believe? The folks at Drumlin Farm say you shouldn't put away those winter coats just yet.
GROUNDHOG DAY HISTORY
How did such an unassuming creature, whose yearly prediction is accurate only 39 percent of the time, become the center of such an enduring tradition? As it turns out, Phil and his counterparts have been predicting the weather for quite some time—since 1887, according to an article in the Huffington Post. And though the tradition’s origins are unclear, it is believed to have come from ancient European weather lore in which a badger or sacred bear predicted the weather. The tradition also has religious origins, as it shares similarities with Candlemas Day, which is also on Feb. 2.
But that’s not the whole story of Phil, his lore or his longevity—not even close. Other facts of note, gathered from various resources, include:
- There’s only one Phil. Although groundhogs live for around 10 years in captivity, Phil loyalists insist there has only been one Punxsutawney Phil since his first appearance in the 1880s. According to the official website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Phil is given a sip of special groundhog punch every year, which extends his life and allows him to keep making predictions. (csmonitor.com)
- The average groundhog is 20 inches long and normally weighs from 12 to 15 pounds. Punxsutawney Phil weighs about 20 pounds and is 22 inches long. (groundhog.org)
- The National Climatic Data Center reportedly stated that Phil's predictions have been correct 39 percent of the time. This number is in conflict with Phil's club, which states he's been right 100 percent of the time. (Huffington Post)
- In the years following the release of the film Groundhog Day, crowds numbering as high as 30,000 have visited Gobbler's Knob, the tiny hill in Punxsutawney where the yearly ceremony takes place. (Huffington Post)
- He may be older than your grandpa’s grandpa, but Phil has adapted with the times. He broke telecommunications ground for rodents in 2010 by allowing people to sign up for a text message notification of his prediction and also updates his Facebook status and tweets his prediction, as he did this morning. (csmonitor.com)
Here are Phil's past few predictions (via Punxutawny Groundhog Club):
|2012||Phil saw his shadow|
|2010||Phil saw his shadow and told his prediction to new Inner Circle President Bill Deeley.|
|2009||Phil saw his shadow and Inner Circle President Bill Cooper completed his final interpretation and retired at Gobblers Knob.|