Groundhog Day 2018 – 6 More Weeks of Winter

In this Feb. 2, 2017, file photo, Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 131st celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

First, check out what happened seven years ago today! Here’s snowfall from the Groundhog Day Blizzard, and the Wikipedia Article on the Storm. Today is Groundhog Day. Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow this morning, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, winter is pretty much over (which is really hardly ever the case on Feb. 2 in Michigan). It all began in Germany with hedgehogs and badgers. The Pennsylvania Dutch (who are really German) didn’t see any hedgehogs or badgers when they arrived in Pennsylvania, so they gave the prognosticating assignment to the local groundhog, or woodchuck (BTW, someone figured out how much wood a woodchuck could chuck).

The most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil. Phil’s been giving us the long-range forecast from Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania since 1887. Phil’s recent predictions are posted here. Phil correctly did predict six more weeks of winter in 2012 and 2014, but missed with his early spring forecast in 2013. Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter 104 of the last 119 years. Today, he saw his shadow (despite mostly cloudy skies in Punxsutawney) and proclaimed six more weeks of winter (good call Phil).

Feb. 2 is also Candlemas Day. An old saying goes: “Half the wood and half the hay, better have left on Candlemas Day”. Of course, that means that if you have half your winter provisions left at this point…you’ll make it through the winter.

Side note: You may have seen the movie Groundhog Day, with actor Bill Murray playing a TV weatherman (the movie was filmed partly in Woodstock, Illinois – about 45 miles from where Bill Murray and I grew up – he lived about 3 blocks from me on Elmwood Ave.). Bill and I went to St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Wilmette, Illinois. We caddied together, though he caddied mostly at Indian Hill C.C. and I caddied mostly at Westmoreland C.C. He’s one year older than me. Here’s a review of the movie “Groundhog Day”.

BTW, any groundhog that might consider coming out of its burrow here in G.R. had to endure temps. of 10-15 deg. with wind chills near zero.. Punxsutawney Phil has his own website.

I’m off early to emcee Math Counts downtown at GVSU – I’ll see you on TV for the evening news.

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