Groundhog Day 2011: More Snow a Good Thing?

Sasha Brown-Worsham

Another snowstorm is predicted for parts of the Northeast, but for the many who are feeling ready to put Winter 2011 (and its 432 snowstorms) behind them, there is hope on the horizon -- hope in the form of the furry beast known as Punxsutawney Phil.

Groundhog Day 2011 is just around the corner (on February 2). According to folklore, a cloudy day means the groundhog will joyously leave his burrow because he can't see his shadow. On a sunny day, he might "see its shadow" and go back into his burrow. This means, according to tradition, that six more weeks of winter are in store. The biggest celebration of this holiday is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and the most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil. This year, more than any other year before, let's hope Phil doesn't see his shadow.

And there is hope. Oddly enough, that hope is the predicted snowstorm.

It may seem counterintuitive and, admittedly, there is some irony to the fact that my children will likely have yet another snow day on the day that could herald the approaching spring. However, sunshine is in short supply during a blizzard and no sunshine means no shadow. And all that equals buh-bye Winter!

According to the Groundhog Day website:

The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.

According to an old English song:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

So these 20 inches we are expected to see in the Northeast? Maybe it means (please, god) an early spring after all! Come on, Phil! Give us what we all want!

Here are his predictions for the last few years:

2010: Phil saw his shadow and told his prediction to new Inner Circle President Bill Deeley.

2009: Phil saw his shadow and Inner Circle President Bill Cooper completed his final interpretation and retired at Gobblers Knob. It was 7:26 a.m.

2008: It was 29 degrees. In front of one of the largest crowds ever at Gobblers’ Knob, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. It was 7:28 a.m.

2007: It was a cloudy morning with light snow flurries when Phil emerged from his burrow at about 7:26 a.m. and did not see his shadow.

2006: Phil saw his shadow while wearing his Steeler "Terrible Towel" at 7:25 a.m. The temperature was a balmy 38 degrees

2005: The sky was clear as Phil saw his shadow before an enthusiastic crowd of 10-18,000. The time was 7:31 a.m. It was Phil’s 119th prediction.

Look, I can take another snow day if it means the end of this horrendous winter. The weather forecast for Punxsutawney calls for a "wintry mix" on Wednesday, according to, and for the first time ever, I say bring it.

End this winter, already!

Do you put stock in the groundhog?


Image via Barbara L. Hanson/Flickr

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