Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Early Spring for Texarkana
It's Groundhog Day across the country and the most famous woodchuck did not see his shadow, according to his handlers in Pennsylvania.
The groundhog lore is that if he does not see his shadow, we get an early spring. If he does see his shadow, then it's six more weeks of winter weather. Over the years, Phil has predicted winter more than 100 times and an early spring fewer than 20 times.
Seeing that we have not had much winter around the Four States Area, I hope the prediction is wrong and we can get some cold weather for February.
Here are some groundhog facts you may not know that you can impress your friends with. A groundhog is another name for a woodchuck. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Actually, experts say a woodchuck could chuck close to 700 pounds based on its typical 20-to-30-foot burrow.
Groundhogs are mostly herbivores, which means they are mainly plant eaters. They dine on grass, seeds, leaves, flowers, fruit, eggs and some insects. They are hunted by wolves, dogs, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, and humans. Groundhogs do not move very quickly so their best defense is to retreat into their burrows. Keen eyesight and hearing help warm them about predators approaching.
While Punxsutawney Phil emerges to predict the weather, groundhogs actually come out of hibernation to look for love. The male woodchucks seek out a female in their territory to meet and stay the night with. They do this meeting-and-greeting with two or three females.
The males then go back into their burrows to sleep until March to sleep some more. When they awake again they go back to the females they spent time with in February and later in the year we have baby groundhogs running around.
Experts say this type of courting ritual has not been found to occur in any other animal species.
You may wonder why February 2 was chosen to celebrate Groundhog Day? Well, it's because it was developed from European tradition of Candlemas Day, marking the exact middle between the Winter Solstice in December and the Spring Equinox in March.
So whatever happens with the weather -- and Phil's prediction -- at least calendar-wise we have six weeks until spring.
Happy Groundhog Day, and here's hoping we get snow before winter ends.