The tradition of Groundhog Day dates to the 1800s when German immigrants in America continued their tradition of a weather-predicting hedgehog on Candlemas Day (February 2). Since there were no hedgehogs in North America, the similarly inclined burrowing groundhog (aka woodchuck) was drafted into service.
The reason for the tradition lies in the winter weather in northeastern U.S. Sunny skies in winter means cold temperatures. If the groundhog finds sunshine on February 2nd, it means winter is still in progress. However, if it’s cloudy, then moderate spring weather is already underway. Statistics show that Phil is right less than half the time. But it’s harmless fun in the dark, cold days of winter.
Who is Punxsutawney Phil?
Since 1886, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has promoted the celebration of Groundhog Day at Gobbler’s Knob, which is a couple of miles outside of town. The local groundhog, known as “Punxsutawney Phil,” has a lair in a little clearing at the top of a wooded hill. Other towns around the nation host Groundhog Day events with a local mammal celebrity. But PA Phil gets the most national press.
Other traditional fun far and near includes screening of the film “Groundhog Day” (1993, PG) with Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott. Bill Murray plays a satirical newsman who relives February 2 over and over again while in Punxsutawney, PA for the annual celebration. Check your local library for a copy. You can also rent it on Amazon Prime, Apple iTunes, and Vudu. Or see it locally on the big screen:
Realistically, the same prediction doesn’t work for the Pacific Northwest. Our weather patterns are entirely different. And further, there are no groundhogs west of the Rocky Mountains. So, we have to rely on another varmint, such as moles, mountain beavers, or gophers. Local traditions include the Rufus the Discovery Park mountain beaver via Q13 Fox News and Snohomish GroundFrog Day.
So, what’s our prediction for this year? More winter or an early spring?
Ground Hog Day 2022 predictions
On Groundhog Day, February 2, 2022, Accuweather predicts Seattle weather will be cloudy and rainy.
Further, the Farmers Almanac November 2021 – October 2022 long range prediction for Seattle includes rain, clouds, cool temperatures leading up to spring 2022. February should see warmer than normal temperatures with normal precipitation. March expects below normal temperatures with normal precipitation.
Uh, this sounds like normal spring weather to us—predictably variable with rain, clouds, and mild temperatures. After a winter with a couple stretches of freezing temperatures, ice, and some lowland snow, a “normal” spring is always welcome.