Out of the Burrow

June 7, 2013
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What if the weather for the next month and a half depended on a groundhog? If Phil sees his shadow we will have winter for six more weeks, if not spring will arrive on time. The big question is how does he know? Is it superpowers or just cowardliness? What makes the groundhog special enough to erect a statue of it?
How can the weather of the next six weeks be predicted by an animal when humans can only predicate the forecast for the next week! Is there even any scientific evidence behind this?
The closest thing to a logical explanation is that the groundhog looks for his shadow, on a clear (and thus cold) day he can see it and will likely retreat back into its burrow, while on a cloudy (and likely milder day) he can’t and will remain outside. Though it is not the most popular or well-known day of the year some people consider it a holiday. I don’t understand why you would base your next six weeks on the chance of an animal seeing its shadow. Lastly I can’t fathom why 30,000 people would travel to Punxsutawney just to watch a little rodent pop out of its house and either scamper away because of its shadow or stay put.
Now I’m not saying that animals can’t sense some things. Some can predict specific weather anomalies, whenever there is an earthquake, hurricane, or tornado a number of animals can sense it. Seagulls can also tell how rough the water is and how much worse it will become. When ladybugs swarm you should expect a day that is warm. Lastly when cows lie down it is a sign of rain on the way, because they are trying to keep their patch of grass dry.
The times that Phil has seen his shadow outnumber the times he has by 83 times. Since 1887 the groundhog has been predicting the weather. There has been no record 9 times, he has seen his shadow 100 times, and not seen it 17 times. When you look at the forecasts from the past 30-40 years the rodent has only been 37% accurate. Phil is not the best weather forecaster.
Whatever you do don’t be afraid of your shadow!

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