February 2, is quickly approaching and groundhogs will soon emerge from their burrows to predict an early spring season, or they might just see their shadow and pop back into their burrow to hibernate for six more weeks of winter.
Groundhog Day is a tradition that has been celebrated in America since the 1700’s. February 2, was officially denominated as Groundhog Day during the late 1700’s by early European migrants who settled in Pennsylvania, and along the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge Mountains of Maryland and Virginia.
Groundhog Day was originally known as Candlemas day, a religious Christian holiday. One of the traditions of Candlemas day was to predict the weather conditions. It was believed that if Candlemas day was sunny, it meant that wintery weather conditions would continue; in contrast, if the day was cloudy or rainy, the worst of winter was over.
Groundhog Day is celebrated throughout the U.S. with games and festivities, particularly in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where large concentrations of Germans and Dutch settled and brought their traditions with them.
Groundhogs are extraordinary creatures that are in particular, accurate weather forecasters. Around mid-winter – on or about February 2, they peep out of their burrows to examine the ground and determine whether the harsh winter conditions are about to end or if winter will continue for several more weeks.
If the ground is saturated and green pastures and berries are blooming, they come out of hibernation and begin to feed to prepare for an early spring mating season.
Groundhogs are also known as woodchucks, large populations could become a nuisance as their uncontrollable wood chucking habits destroy vegetation and large trees.
Groundhog day is expected to be a wet one this year. Since the current weather conditions in the Midwest and northeastern region of the U.S. will remain wet through February 2. Winter storm Luna will continue to move in an easterly direction, carrying heavy amounts of rain and snow to the mid-Atlantic region.
Another contributing factor to the wet weather conditions is the merging of the upper level cold air with lower level warm air, which is expected to merge within the next five days, worsening the stormy weather conditions.
Since Groundhog Day is predicted to be a wet one, groundhogs most likely will not see their shadow. Therefore, the prognostic of an early start of spring is very promising.