Groundhog Day: Facts, History, and Accuracy

Another February has come around where most of the country turns to a different source for their weather info: a rodent. While it is a fun tradition for people all around, where did Groundhog Day come from and why do we decide to put so much faith in Phil?

Groundhog Day has its roots in old myth and legend, with different variations of the Candlemas holiday serving as the foundation for belief. Early Pennsylvanian settlers who were primarily German used their own version of the Candlemas song plus the abundance of groundhogs (who they thought were the wisest animal) in Pennsylvania to determine whether winter would continue for six extra weeks.

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has lead the charge to recognizing Groundhog Day on February 2nd, eventually transitioning the annual celebration to legendary Gobbler’s Knob. American pop culture led to the increase in popularity of the holiday and now every year people look forward to seeing Phil’s furry prediction!

So just how accurate is this forecast? Turns out, not really. From 1969, where weather records are considered within reasonable accuracy, Phil has been accurate 36 percent of the time. As for this year, Phil saw his shadow meaning 6 more weeks of winter are supposedly on their way. This isn’t surprising considering its only February 2!

Need more weather information that a once-a-year, 6-week prediction? Keep up with your local forecast team right here at OU Nightly for daily updates through the rest of this winter and all year long!

Categories: News, Weather

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