Groundhog weather predictions emerge from the shadows

Groundhog weather predictions emerge from the shadows

Avery Callison

   Every year on Feb. 2, groundhogs emerge from their dens to predict the weather forecast for the next six weeks.

   This year, Ohio’s mammalian meteorologist, Buckeye Chuck, was able to see his shadow, which in Groundhog Day terms means six more weeks of winter. If Chuck did not see his shadow, the alternative would mean an early spring is on the way. Another groundhog given the name Punxsutawney Phil had also predicted the stretch of wintry weather. Phil resides in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and annually struts out of his burrow for the special occasion.

   Although Chuck is held dear in the hearts of Ohioans, Phil takes the cake for the most prominent groundhog in America. His name dates all the way back to the first groundhog day in 1887. 

   According to, the historic day originated from a German ancient Christian tradition called Candlemas where candles were distributed to estimate how long and cold winter would be. They then incorporated an animal to help predict the weather – a hedgehog. When the tradition made its way to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania passed the candle to a groundhog, which was more plentiful in the state, and the day took root.

   However, the predictions of these rodents are not the most accurate. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Phil’s track record is around 40% accuracy. Chuck holds a higher success rate with 70% accuracy, according to Spectrumnews1. 

   Groundhogs provide a light-hearted element to the holiday, but research suggests that there may be some logic behind why they were chosen for the almighty task. According to NPR, Daniel Blumstein, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA who studies marmots, confirmed that Groundhog Day coincides with the time of year when groundhogs emerge in the northeastern U.S. 

   Although six more weeks of winter are supposedly on the way, in the wise words of Groundhogs Day protagonist, Phil Connors portrayed by Bill Murray, “Yet we know winter is just another step in the cycle of life.”