Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby is the name of a succession of groundhogs in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. On February 2 (Groundhog Day) each year, the town of Punxsutawney celebrates the legendary groundhog with a festive atmosphere of music and food. During the ceremony, which begins well before the winter sunrise, Phil emerges with his “wife” Phyllis and “daughter” Phelicia from his temporary home on Gobbler’s Knob, located in a rural area about 2 miles south-east of town. According to the tradition, if Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, he predicts six more weeks of winter-like weather.
So what are the chances of Phil seeing his shadow on Thursday morning? If you use Phil’s location of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and the weather forecasted for that morning – it is a good bet that he WON’T SEE his shadow and he will predict an early Spring. The forecast there is for MOSTLY CLOUDY skiers ad a low of around 13° that morning.
However, we are a HUGE fan of SkiSoutheast Si around these parts and he might have something different to say.
The forecast for the High Country area on Thursday morning is for sunny skies and cold temps. Snowshoe’s forecast is for variable cloudiness – so it’s a toss-up as to whether or not the fuzzy dude will see his shadow. We can HOPE for six more weeks of winter, because we haven’t HAD six weeks of winter yet!
More About Punxsutawney Phil
If Phil does not see his shadow, he predicts an “early spring.” The date of Phil’s prognostication is known as Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada, and has been celebrated since 1887. Punxsutawney Phil became a national celebrity thanks to the 1993 movie Groundhog Day.
A select group, called the Inner Circle, takes care of Phil year-round and also plans the annual ceremony. Members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle are recognizable by their top hats and tuxedos.
Here’s a little known fact: The Inner Circle decides whether Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow or not several days in advance of the actual ceremony; its criteria remain a trade secret.
With this little tidbit of background to go on – we’re going on record to predict in advance that Phil and Si will BOTH predict an early Spring whether or not they see their shadow.
Here is some more little-known facts:
According to the lore, there is only one Phil, and all the other groundhogs are impostors. It is claimed that this one groundhog has lived to make weather prognostications since 1886, sustained by drinks of “groundhog punch” administered at the annual Groundhog Picnic in the summer. In reality, the lifespan of a groundhog is roughly six years and it is unknown how many groundhogs have actually played Phil.
According to the Groundhog Club, Phil, after the prediction, speaks to the club president in “Groundhogese”, which only the current president can understand, and then his prediction is translated for the entire world.
The Groundhog Day celebration is rooted in a Celtic tradition that says that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on February 2, the Pagan holiday of Imbolc, winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says, spring will come early.
The ties in Pennsylvania may actually come from German tradition, in which clear skies on Candlemas Day, February 2, were said to herald cold weather ahead. In Germany, the tradition evolved into a myth that if the sun came out on Candlemas, a hedgehog would cast its shadow, predicting snow all the way into May. When German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania, they transferred the tradition onto local fauna, replacing hedgehogs with groundhogs.
Each year two scrolls are prepared by the vice president of the Inner Circle: one says early spring and one says six more weeks of winter. These scrolls are placed during the ceremony on the stump and after Phil is awoken by the crowd, Phil communicates in Groundhogese to the President who is then directed by Phil to the proper scroll and forecast.