The history of Groundhog Day and what it means for Washington

Feb 2, 2023, 8:27 AM | Updated: 9:40 am
groundhogs day...
Groundhog Day has been celebrated on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania each year on February 2nd since 1887. (AP)

February 2 is Groundhog Day, and with it, there is the history behind this folklore and the annual ceremony in Punxsutawney, PA.

Groundhog Day was first documented by storekeeper James Morris of Morgantown, PA on Feb. 4, 1841. He states: ‘Last Tuesday the 2nd was Candlemas Day, the day of 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 is cloudy, he remains out as the weather is to be moderate.’

Washington weather ‘stretched limits,’ ‘extremes’ in 2022

This diary entry offers some meteorology, along with a little dose of history. Winter surface high pressure in the eastern U.S. often results in sunny skies and cold temperatures.

So if the groundhog finds sunshine Feb. 2, winter is still likely in progress. If it is cloudy, then a more moderate weather pattern is already underway.

Since 1886, Groundhog Day has been celebrated on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney each year. This year’s celebration will be the 136th that attracts thousands of visitors to witness Punxsutawney Phil come out of his burrow and make his folklore weather prediction.

According to Groundhog.org, this year’s festivities in Punxsutawney are sold out, but no worries, you can watch Phil make his legendary prediction on the Visit Pennsylvania streaming website.

Winter not over yet despite warmer than usual January

Does Punxsutawney Phil’s weather forecast apply to western Washington? In reality, no, since the weather and climate in the Keystone State is so much different than in this region. But it is still fun to learn what Phil sees when he pops out of his burrow.

Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow Thursday, meaning there will be six more weeks of winter.

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The history of Groundhog Day and what it means for Washington