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Can a Groundhog Really Predict the Weather?!

by Jailen Reid Taylor

Groundhog Day — is it real or fake? Today February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog “claims to have seen his shadow.”

Senior Avery Long commented “Fake!! Why are we depending on a rodent to predict the weather like what?”

Groundhog Day is a popular tradition celebrated in the United States and Canada on February 2nd. It derives from Pennsylvania dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day and sees a shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six  more weeks. [1]

Junior Lauryn Whiten claimed “It’s is very real!! When I’m out, I don’t see groundhogs.” Groundhogs are typically active until the first real frost of winter, often October or November. Then they crawl down into their burrows and begin to hibernate. This hibernation lasts until the weather starts to warm up, usually around February or March.

Although they can hibernate for up to five months, some hibernate for only two to three months, depending on temperatures in the area. As the days shorten, temperatures drop and plants begin to die or go dormant for the winter, a groundhog’s body releases a hormone that helps guide the animal into hibernation until the weather warms and the days begin to grow longer. [2]

Sophomore Sonih Scott stated “A groundhog can’t determine the weather outside.”

The Pennsylvania groundhog isn’t the only weather-predicting rodent in this quirky American tradition, but he is the most famous. According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, his opinion is the only one that matters. [3]

“It’s annoying that because of what a groundhog says that it decides that it’s going to be a longer and colder winter,” said senior Jaizon Jenkins.