Bill’s Blog: The Groundhog Dilemma

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Groundhog Day is coming up this Wednesday. Thousands of people will flock to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to hear the long-range forecast from Phil, the groundhog. Punxsutawney has a population of around 5,770 and is about the size of Zeeland or Dowagiac.

In 2020 crowd estimates ran as high as 40,000 as Phil emerged from his burrow (with a little help) to give his prognostication. Last year the event was held online because of COVID-19.

Legend has it that if Phil sees his shadow the morning of Feb. 2, there will be six more weeks of winter.

There’s a bit of a dilemma this year. Looking at the long-range weather maps, it sure looks like we’re going to see a lot of winter weather in the Great Lakes and Northeast during at least the first half of February and probably beyond. Phil should see his shadow and predict six more weeks of winter. However, it looks like it’s going to be cloudy Wednesday morning in Punxsutawney — no shadow.

So… what’s a poor groundhog to do? If he says (the obvious) that there is no sun to cast a shadow and that winter is essentially over – he will look foolish for making a wrong prediction. On the other hand, he would look just as foolish claiming he could see a shadow that wasn’t there (Emperor’s New Clothes).

I got an idea for Phil… there will be lots of TV cameras on Gobbler’s Knob Wednesday morning. TV cameras often have nice, bright lights. Turn the lights on Phil and make a shadow! Then he can see his shadow, run back in his burrow and get another six weeks of shut-eye, while those of us above ground can deal with the cold and snow. Whatcha think?

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