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AmadorValleyToday

The student news site of Amador Valley High School

AmadorValleyToday

The student news site of Amador Valley High School

AmadorValleyToday

Groundhog Day: What’s going on?

Groundhog+Day+also+has+a+movie+based+off+of+it%2C+starring+Bill+Murray.
Rebecca Mestel
Groundhog Day also has a movie based off of it, starring Bill Murray.

Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog behind Groundhog Day, has a full name: Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary. The tradition began in 1886 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Each February, the groundhog, Phil, tries to see his shadow, and depending on the results, predicts whether winter is extended by six weeks. If he doesn’t, it means that spring will come early. 

“[Phil’s] shadow is dependent on the day’s weather, cloudy or not.” said biology teacher Robyn Fewster.

The Groundhog Club has different claims, however. Phil is said to be 137 years old by the Groundhog Club. To live this long, he drinks an “elixir of life”. Despite these claims, groundhogs only have a lifespan of six to seven years, and in captivity, can live up to twenty two years. Calculations estimate that there might have actually been as many as thirty groundhogs in Phil’s place. 

Considering the science behind shadow-season predictions, couldn’t a dog, pencil, giraffe, or human’s shadow also predict the season?” asked Amy Yang (‘25).

Despite the Groundhog Day Club’s claim of one hundred percent accuracy, this is not true. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Phil is only accurate thirty nine percent of the time. Out of the 103 times Phil has been out and active, he has only predicted an early spring seventeen times.

“Obviously, it is just a fun, silly tradition that has nothing to do with actual weather predictions. One day’s weather can not make a seasonal forecast” said Fewster. 

Even though Phil may not always be accurate, many still gather every year to commemorate Phil and his predictions.  

“It’s a bit silly and random, but so are a lot of holidays! It’s a nice way to make the day and the groundhog feel special” said Yang.

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