Does Groundhog Day Really Matter for Tri-Cities Weather?
Every February 2nd our collective attention goes to the tiny town of Punxsutawny, Pa to find out whether or not a large rodent saw something. Phil the Groundhog pops out of the ground and depending on whether or not he sees his shadow is supposed to let us know what the weather will hold for the next six weeks.
It's a big deal in Punxsutawny (population 5,769) as Phil as been predicting the weather, mostly, since 1886, give or take a few off years in between. Phil isn't the only weather predicting groundhog though.
You have Lady Edwina of Essex and Milltown Mel in New Jersey, Chattanooga Chuck in Tennessee, French Creek Freddie in West Virginia, Staten Island Chuck in New York, and Ms. G in Massachusetts. Those are just the east coast states with groundhog celebrations. Move to the mid-west and you meet Buckeye Chuck in Ohio and Jimmy the Groundhog in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Not all of these groundhogs have been as reliable as Phil.
Milltown Mel passed away and they haven't been able to find a suitable replacement. Chattanooga Chuck also passed away in 2019 without a heir.
Washington State has had six of record
Three of the six we will knock out right away as Bridget the Groundhog, Rufus the Aplodontia Rufa, and Seattle Sue the Mountain Beaver were all stuffed animals...they don't count. Then you have Snohomish Slew the bullfrog who celebrates "Groundfrog Day". This year is was on January 28th, maybe to give Slew his own day to shine.
Pend Oreille showcased a pair of prairie dogs, Snowy and Flurry, that would do their best to forecast the next six weeks of weather.
In truth, a groundhog on the east coast or in the midwest isn't going to determine the next six weeks of weather in a basin climate...especially when our own weather people at times miss the mark. The fact it has little to no bearing on our climate doesn't take away from the intrigue of what will be seen each February 2nd.