Can weather be predicted by groundhogs?
An idea is built up by newspapers since it “makes a good story”, and they keep it up. This seems to be the case with the groundhog and its ability to predict the weather.
People have a strong belief that the groundhog is a weather prophet. The belief is an old one. The groundhog or wood cluck, or marmot, is a hibernating animal. It lives in a burrow during winters. According to an old tradition it comes out on the second day of February which has come to be called “Groundhog day”.
Once out of burrow, it is supposed to look over the landscape. In the cloudy day it cannot see its shadow, it stays out, and is supposed to be a good sign. The prediction is for a mild weather for the remaining winter. Soon it goes back to get more sleep. It gives rise to the belief that the weather will be cold for another six weeks.
The newspapers try to reason and keep up the tradition as it makes a good story. To start with there appears no reason for the ability of a groundhog to predict weather. It has special capability either. Despite the fact that most people do not really believe, yet, the traditional keeping up of the story.
The groundhog does not come out of its burrow on the second day of February every year. Sometimes it comes out earlier, sometimes later. Often a newspaperman will force the groundhog out on the right day in order to take pictures. Obviously, if the weather is still very cold, the groundhog has no desire at all to emerge from its warm burrow.
The tradition possibly originated in Europe concerning the hedgehog. The pilgrims transferred it to the groundhog when they came to this country.