Editorial: News flash: Punxsutawney Phil predicts more winter

Photo By Gene J. Puskar: Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of weather on Groundhog’s Day at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  

Column By Mike Bibb

“I see a shadow on my stage, and so no matter how you measure, it’s six more weeks of winter weather.”

Punxsutawney Phil’s official interpreter, Feb. 2, 2023

The annual guru of winter meteorology, a ground rodent affectionally known as  Punxsutawney Phil from Pennsylvania has predicted another six weeks of winter.


He, and his ancestors, have been performing this stunt since 1887.  And, every year he/she (maybe in today’s woke society Phil is really Phyllis) nails it, regardless if he sees more ice and snow or early spring.

Is this really his opinion, based upon a visual observation of his shadow, or a common scientific certainty?

Either way, Phil can’t go wrong.  It will remain cold, or warm up as spring and summer approach. 

Similar to predicting the Gila Valley is going to be cool in the winter until it warms in the spring, based upon the observations of a previously slumbering Gila Monster. 

Is there a third option?  Not really.  Regardless of Phil’s opinions, spring always follows winter.

More importantly, does it matter what sleepy Phil sees or doesn’t see?  He just wants to go back to his climatically controlled burrow bed and be left alone.

Local townsfolk have other ideas.

A group of enterprising individuals concocted the annual festival based upon – supposedly – a German legend involving a big rodent, approaching spring and a groundhog’s temperament on an early February morning. 

There was at least one important obstacle that had to be overcome – a normal groundhog’s lifestyle requires winter hibernation.  Consequently, if a seasonal weather prognostication was to be given in early February, then the little creature had to be conscious enough to render a report.

Currently, that issue has been resolved by the fact Phil doesn’t actually hibernate.  His handlers have constructed a home with lights, heat, and room service.

Basically, when he’s not issuing his annual winter/spring prediction, Phil lives the Life of Riley, exempt from most groundhogs’ winter trials and tribulations.

Actually, he’s a world-renowned celebrity whose official title is, “Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.” 

With a designation like that, one would assume Phil’s yearly winter announcement is always correct, considering he only has to make one of two decisions:  If it’s sunny, then Phil will see his shadow.  Meaning, six more weeks of winter.  If cloudy, there is insufficient sunlight to cast a shadow.  Meaning, spring is on the way.

In other words, on Groundhog Day sunny skies indicate six more weeks of cold winter.  Cloudy days forecast milder weather is on the way.

Go figure.

Don’t ask me who came up with this formula, or the logic behind it.  But, if I was Phil – after 136 years of this nonsense – I’d simply post a notice on my front door:  “Don’t wake me to ask if it’s going to remain winter until spring.  It is.  Go back to school and learn what spring, summer, fall and winter mean. Your friend, Punxsutawney Phil” 

The opinions in this editorial are those of the author.