Friday, February 2, 2018
What Will It Be?
It is February 2nd. That means that groundhogs will be rudely taken from their little homes and exposed to the outer world. And someone will use the reactions to determine how much longer winter will last.
The most famous of the groundhogs is Punxutawney Phil. He has been around for more than a century; 131 years old to be exact. How can that be you ask? He drinks "groundhog punch". It gives him an extra 7 years of life when he drinks it at the annual Groundhog Picnic. Phil is accurate about 39% of the time.
Thistle the Whistlepig has only been predicting since 2016 so there is not much data yet. She was only 8 months old when she made her first prediction. She lives at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. She was the runt of her littler and abandoned by her mother. But life is better for her now. She now lives with Lake Erie Eddie so she has companionship.
Staten Island Chuck was formerly known as Charles G. Hogg. He lives in the Staten Island Zoo. Chuck is grumpy. At least 2 New York mayors have been bitten although the second time was blamed on his granddaughter Charlotte. Charlotte died a few days later so she will have to take the rap. Zoo officials have installed plexiglass to protect Chuck from mayors and mayors from Chuck.
For some strange reason Dunkirk Dave is what Chautauqui, New York, calles their groundhog. Dave'seal name is Sidewinder but that is not what is strange. Dave is a she! Her owner is Bob Will. At 58 years of prediting she is the second longest spring foecaster of the grounhogs.
In 2015 Jimmy the Goundhog bit the mayor of Sun Pairie, Wisconsin, on the ear as the mayor leaned close for Jimmy to give him the forecast for spring. Jimmy now stays in a cage for the ceremony.
The Tennessee Aquarium is home to Chattanooga Chuck. He has been there for at least 7 years. This groundhog relies on a team of humans and other animals at the aquarium to help him make his prediction.
Unadilla Bill is probably the most unusual of the groundhogs, He is dead! He was found in a garden after his demise. The farmer had him stuffed. Every year the tiny town of Unadilla has a groundhog festival including a parade. The farmer waits to see if Bill sees his shadow then leans in for Bill to tell him the forecast. The farmer then makes the announcement.
In 1979 Buckeye Chuck was named as Ohio's official representative for Groundhog Day. He resides in Marion, Ohio. Chuck wishes for an early spring so that is mostly what he predicts.
General Beauregard Lee recently moved to Dauset Trails Nature Center in Jackso, Georgia. He has honorary degrees in Weather Prognostication and Southern Groundology from University of Georgia and Georgia State University respectively. The National Weather Service has honored him twice for the accuracy of predictions.
Why are groundhogs the animals we look to for the spring prognostication? The Pennsylvania Dutch had a superstition that if a groundhog emerged from his burrow and the day was sunny so rharhe saw his shadow he would crawl back into his burrow for six more weeks when spring would arrive.
If the day was overcast and the groundhog did not see his shadow he would stay out and spring will be early.
What do you think the groundhog will say this year?