The Who2 Blog

Punxsutawney Phil Is Not Actually Predicting the Weather, Just FYI

Photo of groundhog Punxsutawney Phil being held by a man in a top hat

(Photo: Groundhog.org)

Groundhog hero Punxsutawney Phil has made his annual appearance for 2022. This year he “saw his shadow” and thereby “predicted” six more weeks of winter.

Now, we love Groundhog Day as much as the next biographical website. We’ve reported on Phil in detail over the years, from his climate change opinions (“just great”) to his clashes with PETA. We’ve tangled with Phil’s handlers over his age. We’ve called him a power-mad little Napoleon and the Jimi Hendrix of bad weather forecasting, and described his bored Greta Garbo gaze.

Photos of Greta Garbo and Punxsutawney Phil Side by Side

Separated at birth?

What we hadn’t done, we realized this week, is to make it explicitly clear in our biography that Punxsutawney Phil does not actually predict the weather. We spoke carefully, it’s true: we called Groundhog Day a “fun folklore tradition” and mentioned that Phil’s handlers only say that he’s seeing his shadow. We noted that those handlers “insist, whimsically, that Punxsutawney Phil is over 100 years old and that he drinks an ‘elixir of life’ each year.”

But we didn’t state flatly that the whole thing, like Santa Claus coming down chimneys, is a jolly gag. So this year we’ve added a new line to our profile of Punxsutawney Phil:

Of course, Phil is not actually predicting the weather, and there’s no science behind the idea; it’s all just for fun.

It’s a key point for youngsters who are trying to understand this strange and amazing tradition. And we do try to be utterly factual on Who2. We feel better about the bio now, and to be honest, we suspect the change won’t rain much on Phil’s parade or his shadow. The power-mad little Napoleon.

See our full and honest biography of Punxsutawney Phil »

 

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