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Groundhog Day Explained

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Published on Feb 2, 2015

Groundhog day. What's the deal?! I'm not talking about the Bill Murray hit comedy, either!

I'm talking about the biggest holiday in the weather world - and it's dedicated to an overgrown rodent who's only right 35 to 40 percent of the time!

How did we get here?!?

It all started in Medieval Europe - yes, before radar, satellites, supercomputers, and modern weather forecasting. Winters were cold, supplies were running low, and people were anxious to get their crops in the ground. February 2 is roughly halfway between the first day of winter and the first day of Spring. And in Europe, this is about the time snakes, badgers, and hedgehogs begin to come out of their winter dens. Since animals are usually pretty good forecasters, people took this as a sign of Spring weather right around the corner. Now we fast forward a few hundred years when Europeans settle in the US. They find these groundhogs, and think, "eh, good enough."

But what about his shadow?
Turns out, Groundhog day coincides with with the Christian holiday, Candlemas, and the Pagan holiday of Imbolc (pronounced i-MOLK). For both of these holidays, it's believed a sunny, clear day - good shadow making weather - is a precursor to more bad winter weather. But a cloudy, rainy day - no shadow making weather - is a sign of Spring weather to come.

And this kind of makes sense. Think about it - some of the coldest days in the winter are clear, sunny days brought on by high pressure from dry, arctic air masses. And warmer days are usually from fronts ushering in some rain.

At some point, it's likely these traditions were smashed together, and some German settlers in Pennsylvania needed a good reason to throw a party in early February.

Now, if you could, do me a favor, hit the like button, subscribe to the channel, and Groundhog Day the heck out of this video by watching it over and over.

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