Breakdown: Happy Groundhog Day! Why he’s wrong, more than right

Breakdown: Happy Groundhog Day! Why he’s wrong, more than right
PETA is calling on Punxsutawney Phil to retire and be replaced with an animatronic groundhog. (Source: Pennsylvania Cable Network/CNN)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It is Groundhog Day! If you feel like you have lived this story before, well you have, it happens each year on Feb. 2.

It’s the day that we believe a drowsy, hungry rodent and let him predict an “accurate” long-range weather forecast. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow on Groundhog Day, then it means six more weeks of winter weather, no shadow, well, spring will come early.

First, let’s answer the question, can a groundhog really predict the weather? Well according to Syracuse.com, you are much better off flipping a coin. There has been no correlation between Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions and what the country has seen weather-wise each year.

For 120 plus years records have been kept and according to Stormfax Almanac, Phil’s six-week prognostications have been correct only around 39 percent of the time!

Groundhog Day gained its name from European folklore. The legend goes that if a badger emerging in the spring was scared by its shadow, winter would last longer, and the farmers should postpone planting. While no badgers were found in Central Pennsylvania, the German immigrants settled on a groundhog.

The second day of February was chosen all due to geography. The latitude of Central Pennsylvania, the average temperature is about 28 degrees, which is warm enough for groundhogs to wake from hibernation.

Also, fun fact, a groundhog and woodchuck are the same animals just with different names. The scientific name for this animal is a Marmota monax, and it is one of the largest members of the squirrel family.

So, what about spring? When will it really start? The answer is Thursday, March 19 at 10:50 p.m. central time. That is when the Spring Equinox will occur.

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