Furry Forecasters Fight for Groundhog Supremacy


Image Courtesy of CNN

By Noah Slayter

Groundhog’s Day is arguably the oddest and most uneventful holiday in America. Every year on February 2 people look towards a rodent for weather forecasting, completely dependent on whether he sees his shadow; an unusual but simple tradition. This year, however, woodchucks across North America gave us the weirdest year yet.

Pennsylvania’s renowned Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Thursday, thus predicting six more weeks of winter weather. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club watched closely as Phil was brought out of his tree trunk at Gobbler’s Knob, Phil’s official residence. In front of a large crowd, the President of the Groundhog Club translated the predicted wintery forecast from Phil’s native “Groundhog-ese.” His prediction is being challenged by a lesser-known fellow rodent, but with a much larger streak for accuracy.

Staten Island Chuck of the Staten Island Zoo did not see his shadow this year, thus predicting that spring is on its way, in stark contrast to Phil’s findings. Herein lies the controversy. According to William Frew of the Zoo’s Board of Trustees, Chuck has been 80% accurate in his predictions. Punxsutawney Phil, on the other hand, has only been correct 40% of the time.

Few people attended Chuck’s forecasting ceremony due to Covid-19 protocols still in place. A couple of city officials attended, though New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams declined to attend in person and sent a video message in his stead. This decision may have been motivated by the fact that former mayor Bill De Blasio accidentally dropped an older Staten Island Chuck in 2014, who later died from her internal injuries.  

There are actually quite a few groundhogs who make predictions about the winter weather every year. A groundhog in York County, Pennsylvania, for example, predicted six more weeks of winter, and that the Philadelphia Eagles will win the 2023 Super Bowl. Other lesser-known furry forecasters include Dunkirk Dave of Dunkirk, New York; Chuckles IX of Connecticut; Chattanooga Chuck of Tennessee; Thistle the Whistle Pig of Cleveland, and the official groundhog of Ohio, Buckeye Chuck, who somehow predicted more winter despite being a stuffed groundhog.One Canadian woodchuck was “dead silent” this year. Fred la Marmotte of Quebec was found deceased the night before his big day. Robert Blondin, the event organizer, is quoted saying, “‘In life, the only thing that’s certain is that nothing is certain…Well, this year it’s true. It’s sadly true. I announce to you that Fred is dead.”’

Suffice it to say, this was an eventful Groundhog’s Day.

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