It’s Groundhog Day…again. The legendary famous Feb. 2nd forecast began not with a groundhog, but with a badger in Germany. When the “Pennsylvania Dutch”, who were really Germans, not Dutch, came to Pennsylvania, they didn’t find any badgers, so the legend was transferred to the rather numerous groundhogs.
The first mention of Groundhog Day in America goes all the way back to 1840, to a diary entry by James Morris, who commented on his German neighbors. The first official mention of a Groundhog Day observance came from the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper in 1886.
Around 2,000 came to Punxsutawney for the Groundhog Weather Forecast, until the movie Groundhog Day was released in 1993. When the movie came out, the crowd swelled to as many as 40,000 – eight times the population the town. It’s now back down to around 10,000 – still a pretty sizable crowd.
Side note that I’ve shared before…Bill Murray, the actor from the movie, lived 3 blocks from me in Wilmette IL when I was growing up. We went to the same elementary school. He was one year older than me. We were both golf caddies. Many of the outdoor scenes for the movie were filmed in Woodstock, Illinois. I just got an email from Woodstock, reminding me that they still have the downtown gazebo, the Tip Top Cafe, the house used as a Bed and Breakfast in the movie and their own weather-forecasting groundhog, “Woodstock Willie”.
Feb. 2 is also Candlemas Day. There’s an old saying, “Half the wood and half the hay, better have left on Candlemas Day”. That meant that if you still had half your winter supplies on Feb. 2, you’d make it through the winter.
You can check the cloud cover in western Pennsylvania (and in Michigan) on this satellite loop. You can check current weather observations in PA here. Remember, if the groundhog sees his shadow – 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, that doesn’t mean winter is over, it means that spring will be on the early side (a good call with this weather pattern right now).
In West Michigan, we have a couple of mild days ahead with temps. well up into the 40s, melting the snow that’s left. The record high temperature for today is 48° in G.R. – which is the lowest record high of the year. We should challenge that this PM. It’ll be a windy today, with gusts to 30-40 mph possible. We should also finally see some sunshine today in all areas. This week we’ll have to watch the Wed. night to Thur. night period for some more significant precipitation, which could be a mix of rain, snow and maybe even a period of freezing rain. I’m working today (Sun.), so when you’re done watching the Big Game (I can’t call it be it’s other name – copyright infringement) turn over to get your local news/weather on WXSP at 10 pm and on WOOD TV8 at 11 pm. Happy Sunday!