The furry meteorologist


Brooklyn Kelley

This February brings yet another year of anxiously awaiting Punxsutawney Phil’s wise counsel. 

If Phil the groundhog sees his shadow when he emerges from his home in the ground on Groundhog Day, there will be six more weeks of winter to come. If he does not see his shadow, spring is on the way … or so the legend goes. 

If you are someone who sits on the edge of your seat waiting to see if the beloved creature sees his shadow so you know whether to trade your snow boots for sandals, you might want to reconsider your source of weather predictions. 

The National Centers for Environmental Information found that from 2010-2020, Punxsutawney Phil only had a 50% accuracy rate. Tell Phil not to quit his day job. 

It’s clearly not his shockingly accurate predictions that keep him in stardom, but rather his charm and charisma that continuously attracts people to the event. 

The good news is that Feb. 2, Groundhog Day, is the midway point between the spring equinox and the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, so even if you don’t like Phil’s prediction, you can rest easy knowing that spring is just around the corner, even if warm weather is not. 

According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, the first time Groundhog Day was in the newspaper was in 1886 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, making this the 136th year of trusting Phil to be our weather guide. 

There is so much about Groundhog Day to appreciate beyond knowing whether people should put their ice scrapers back in the depths of their glove boxes, and the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club knows that well. The club was established in 1887, sells Groundhog Day merchandise and provides information about this essential holiday. 

Phil might live in the dirt, but he is a real celebrity. According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, he has been on the Oprah Winfrey Show, had his prediction broadcasted on a JumboTron in Times Square and inspired the movie “Groundhog Day.” Talk about fame. If Punxsutawney Phil had an official Instagram, he would surely have a bigger following than Beyoncé. 

So, why Phil the groundhog? Are platypuses just not as destined to be weathermen?

The Almanac says that German immigrants brought their weather predicting traditions with them to America, but they originally used badgers back at home. Since they couldn’t find any badgers, they settled for a groundhog since it was close enough, hence the holiday coming to be called Groundhog Day. 

Thanks to the lack of badgers in the part of Pennsylvania to which the Germans moved, Phil caught his big break and became a star. Good thing he did, because he is exactly what America needed and still needs to this day. Weathermen just aren’t enough; Phil’s predictions are far better than any modern technology. 

Despite his sometimes questionable accuracy, Punxsutawney Phil remains a chubby, cute creature that is understandably loved and cherished worldwide.