The Groundhog as Weather Prophet


Groundhog Produces Conclusive Evidence of His Ability as Prophet.

Thursday of last week was groundhog day, and for winter it was one of the most perfect days we have had this season. The air was warm and balmy, the sun shone brightly, and his procine majesty had not the slightest difficulty in distinguishing his shadow. The next two or three days following were also ideal ones, and we fear that some of our people so far forgot themselves as to make remarks fraught with levity and volatility, thus exasperating the groundhog custodian of the weather.

Jealous of his time-honored perogatives, and incensed at the aspersions cast upon his good name, the groundhog lost all patience Sunday and sent down a blast straight from the head-quarters of old Boreas. Sleet and snow, with plenty of wind for musical accompaniment, made things mighty interesting all day. Trains were late, wires were down, and while the roads were not blockaded, traffic was hard and impeded. The blizzard was general, but did not last longer than one day.

It was sufficient to instill a wholesome respect for the groundhog.

Adams County Free Press (Corning, Iowa) Feb 8, 1911


As the weather forecast as indicated by the conditions on Groundhog Day is often rather rudely shattered by subsequent developments, we have thought it worth while to look into this matter with a view to ascertaining how the proposition has worked out in years gone by. While, of course, there is no scientific basis for the tradition associated with the groundhog it is quite a robust theory tliat holds to the view that if the sun is shining on February 2nd (Candlemas Day) and the groundhog can see his shadow when he comes out of his burrow, the weather will be cold and stormy; in short, that six weeks more of winter will follow. On the other hand, if the day is cloudy and he does not see his shadow, he remains out in anticipation of warmer weather and an early spring.

Whatever of coincidence might be revealed by an examination of a longer period is not known but it is certainly not very striking for the following tabulation:

In conclusion we think it can be said that even the most ardent admirer of the groundhog forecast must admit that it is not only unreliable but that, based on the evidence of the last eleven years, it has several times shown a strong reversal of form.


Title: Saward’s Annual: A Standard Statistical Review of the Coal Trade
Editor: Frederick William Saward
Publisher: Frederick W. Saward, 1921
Page 187 (google book link)


Previous Posts:

The Badger on Candlemas Day


Mr. Groundhog

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