Groundhog weather prediction about as good as a February coin flip
If you have a coin in your pocket, you have a predictor of spring about the equal of the groundhog, which is looked upon for a forecast each Feb. 2.
Around my place Feb. 2 is a special day. It’s the day Punxsutawney Phil and his pals are pulled from their den to determine if they see their shadow, and it’s also my wife, Phyllis’ birthday.
It’s interesting both the famous weather forecaster and the Mrs. are both named Phil. And since the two events the Phiis celebrate coincide, I don’t forget the birthday.
If the Phil’s see their shadows, legend says there will be six more weeks of winter prior to the arrivals of spring. If no shadow is seen, supposedly the weather will moderate sooner and spring will arrive earlier.
Most weather pros says history indicates it probably will be about six weeks until improved weather for fishing and enjoying time outdoors arrives whether or not shadows are seen.
For the record, not all groundhogs are named Phil and not all are in Pennsylvania.
Some Europeans apparently gave the forecasting job to the bear, but the groundhog seemed more friendly when aroused from a deep winter sleep. Anyway, the job was assigned to a creature that hibernated, and its emergence symbolized the imminent arrival of spring.
Last year, a grumpy groundhog named Jimmy (apparently not happy about being brought from a sleep to forecasting duties), bit the mayor of Sun Prairie, Wis., on the ear.
And, the Sun Prairie saga continues. The ground hog celebration is a big thing in the community. However, Jimmy is gone. Not because he bit the mayor, but because later he chewed his way out of his cage, escaped, and never found.
Sun Prairie hasn’t been able to come up with a new ground hog, but managed to obtain one on loan for this year.
The Germans had considered the badger as their weather prognosticator, but due to a shortage of badgers in the area they settled in the U.S., they assigned the task to the groundhog.
The groundhog also is known as a woodchuck, and in some areas is called a land beaver. It is a member of the rodent family, belonging to a group of large ground squirrels, known as marmots. They are found from Canada to Alabama.
Groundhog day comes at a dismal time of the year when most of us need a reminder that spring will come. After the groundhogs do their thing Feb. 2, and early March rolls around, I always anticipate spring. I get too anxious.
In March, there usually are a few relatively nice days, but they often can be counted on one hand. Usually, it is early April before the weather really starts to significantly improve with crappie action and turkey and mushroom seasons highlighting the month.
However in the meantime, one can take advantage of the few good days if they coincide with personal time available.
Even cold blustery days can be time for sauger and walleye fishing, scouting for spring turkey hunts, looking for shed antlers, and planning spring fishing trips.