Should Punxsutawney Phil Start Writing His Will?



People have started to question Punxsutawney Phil’s reliability

Madelyn Stumbo, Website Editor

Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania has been predicting the arrival of spring in the United States since the 1800s, but a few other competitive animals may be vying for his spot. 

Every February 2nd, hundreds of people gather to see if Phil sees his shadow, indicating six more weeks of winter, or if he misses it, indicating an early spring. In the past decade, Phil has been accurate about 40% of the time. Other animals, such as an opossum, an armadillo, a duck, and a frog have begun to test their luck at predicting the weather with varying levels of success. 

Groundhog Day began as an advancement of the German holiday “Candlemas”, which predicted the weather using candles and hedgehogs. When German settlers arrived in Pennsylvania the tradition shifted to using groundhogs, because they were more plentiful in the Keystone State. 

The first Groundhog Day was in 1887, when a member of the Groundhog Hunters Club, who also happened to be a journalist, declared that Punxsutawney Phil was the only groundhog gifted with the ability to predict the US weather truthfully. The use of “Groundhog Day” wasn’t popularized until the release of a movie under the same title in 1993. 

Sand Mountain Sam is an opossum from Alabama, with a shockingly accurate track record for predicting the weather. In the past five years, Sam hasn’t messed up a single prediction. In previous years, before the opossum predictions were momentarily disbanded, she was right 93% of the time. Many people on social media argue that Sam should replace Phil, as she is clearly the more accurate weather predictor. This year Sam and Phil had contradicting opinions on the arrival of spring, with Sam deciding on an early spring, and Phil predicting winter would prevail. 

Along with Sam, another animal, an Armadillo from Texas named “Bee Cave Bob” also hasn’t made a mistake in the past five years. In true Texas fashion, they have decided to let go of Pennsylvania’s predictions and start something of their own, using an armadillo, a Texas icon. This year Bob has decided to side with Sam and proclaim that winter will soon come to a close (at least in Texas). 

Some other honorable mentions are Scramble the Duck, from Connecticut, and Snohomish Slew, a frog from the state of Washington, although these two animals did not have as astounding results, only being accurate 0-20% of the time. Scramble has yet to make a correct prediction in their entire career of weather prediction. 

As people continue to squabble over which animal from which state can properly foresee the future, it may be best to get reliable weather information from your local weather station. Despite his recent misjudgments, it is clear the Punxsuatony Phil will remain the true star of Groundhog day, as the only real groundhog in the field. The attempts of other states may become popular because of their accuracy, but none of the other species can triumph over a century-long tradition of using groundhogs.