History of Groundhog Day and why it doesn’t matter in Seattle

Jan 30, 2014, 3:37 PM | Updated: Jan 31, 2014, 8:01 am
Groundhog Day has been celebrated on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania each year on Febru...
Groundhog Day has been celebrated on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania each year on February 2nd since 1887. (AP)

February 2nd is Groundhog Day. The first documented American reference to Groundhog Day was found in a diary entry by storekeeper James Morris of Morgantown, Pennsylvania dated February 4, 1841.

Last Tuesday the 2nd was Candlemas Day…the day on which according to the Germans, the groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow, he pops back for another six weeks nap. But if the day be cloudy, he remains out as the weather is to be moderate.

What is the meteorology behind this diary entry? Winter surface high pressure in that part of the country often results in sunny skies and cold temperatures. So if the groundhog finds sunshine on February 2nd, winter is still likely in progress. If it’s cloudy, then more moderate weather is already underway.

Groundhog Day has been celebrated on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania each year on February 2nd since 1887. The 2013 version will be the 128th celebration that attracts thousands of visitors to witness Punxsutawyney Phil come out of his burrow and make his folklore weather prediction.

Does Punxsutawney Phil’s weather forecast apply to the Pacific Northwest? Realistically no, since the weather in the Northeast U.S. is so much different than this region.

Yet the event offers another reason to talk about the weather. Groundhog Day this year also happens to coincide with a certain super game in the New York City area. Does Punxsutawney Phil make other predictions?

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History of Groundhog Day and why it doesn’t matter in Seattle