Punxsutawney Phil: The legend, the myth, the rodent
This Wednesday is Groundhog Day.
That silly groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, gets snatched out of his hole to see if he sees his shadow. If Phil the groundhog sees his shadow, there’s six more weeks of winter. No shadow means spring is on its way.
Well, with the near foot of snow we’re scheduled to get this weekend, I’m not so sure we’re even going to be able to see Phil this year, never mind his shadow. But we’ll need to see the oversized squirrel, the rodent groundhog predict the future of the weather.
There’s a big question about the validity of Gobbler Creek's most famous rodent — I mean resident Phil the groundhog and his shadow. As you would expect, I did a little homework to see the track record of the famed rodent. Just how accurate are his predictions?
On February 2, 2020, at 7:25 a.m., Phil did not see his shadow, which means that he called for an early spring. OK, he got it right. The average temperature for March 2020 was 46.3, ranking the temperature in the top ten warmest months of March since 1895. Even his cousin, a blind squirrel, finds a nut every once in a while.
On February 2, 2019, at 7:25 a.m. Phil did not see his shadow, meaning that there will be an early spring. Nope. Temperatures plummeted here in New Jersey in late March with an average high of 33 degrees. Sorry, Phil!
On February 2, 2018, at 7:25 a.m. Phil saw his shadow, indicating six more weeks of winter. Nope, the average temperature here in New Jersey was 47 degrees with a March 2018 high temperature of 62. No snow, some rain but a seasonably warm six weeks.
On February 2, 2017, Phil saw his shadow, which means six more weeks of winter. Ah, nope. Record high temperatures here in New Jersey hitting into the 60s, some rain no snow with an average temperature for the six weeks over 50 degrees.
On February 2, 2016, Phil didn’t see his shadow, meaning spring is near. Well what do you know, he got it. A few days in the high 30s but mostly 40s 50s and 60s including a high of 73 over the six weeks! Way to go, Phil!
The tradition of Punxsutawney Phil started in 1886 when Groundhog Day made an appearance in the local paper and the very first trek to Gobblers Creek took place. 135 years later Groundhogs Day has grown to where people from around the world trek to the little town in Western PA to see that sleepy groundhog Phil being excavated from his hole.
Phil and Groundhog Day are a tradition that makes this time of year fun. The good news is that Phil will be coming out of his hole Wednesday the 2nd, I hope with a mask. Who cares if he sees his shadow? It’s just nice to see the little fella. Happy Groundhog Day!
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.