Tomorrow is the "Big Day" for one ugly rodent. Groundhog Day has been celebrated in Punxsutawney, PA every February 2nd since 1887, when the first recorded prediction was made at Gobbler's Knob.
There have been many Phils over the years (even in captivity, they're lucky to see their 10th birthday), but one thing remains the same-- this guy is not very good at predicting the weather.
You probably know the deal. If Phil sees his shadow, it frightens him and he heads back into his burrow for 6 more weeks of winter. But if there is no shadow to be seen, there's nothing to scare him, which means spring is right around the corner.
Maybe to some people, this makes sense. For me, it raises too many questions!
1. Define "spring coming early". Does that mean temperatures are above normal? Highs above 60 degrees? No more snow? Or is there some other sign of spring that I'm not thinking of?
2. What geographical area is in Phil's jurisdiction? Is his "forecast" valid only in western Pennsylvania, or should all Americans seek his guidance on February 2nd? (Maybe this is the reason for so many other prognosticating rodents around the country and in Canada...)
3. Is Phil any more accurate than a statistical flip of the coin? The odds on a coin flip being right, in theory, should be 50%. According to the Stormfax Weather Almanac, the groundhog is only correct about 39% of the time. Which means, of course, that he falls short against the coin flip. How is that possible?
Of course, all of this is in good fun. If you decide to skip your next oil delivery and break out the shorts because Phil says it's going to be an early spring... well... good luck to you!