The marmot Phil, to which the Americans lend supposed meteorological skills, saw its shadow when it came out of its burrow on Wednesday February 2. Result: six additional weeks of winter in anticipation, according to an age-old ritual in Pennsylvania, in the east of the country.
As proof of his notoriety, Phil again gathered thousands of people in Punxsutawney, according to images broadcast by the NBC media.
The (real) American weather services, the National Weather Service, echoed Phil that morning and warned of the arrival of a “vast and massive winter storm” over the northeastern and central United States. for two to three days, as was the case at the end of the month.
The meteorologist rodent is not often right
The weather reports of Phil and his predecessors, also named Phil, are however rarely accurate, according to the very serious American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA).
On average, the meteorological rodent “has seen just 40% of the weather over the past ten years,” the agency says.
In 2021, the groundhog predicted six more weeks of wintry weather when February was unusually cold and March above seasonal averages, a “50/50” for Phil according to NOAA.
The trailer for the film “Groundhog Day” which talks about the event, with Bill Murray, in 1993
A tradition imported by German peasants
The tradition of meteorological marmots, which falls on February 2 every year, was brought to the United States in the 19th century by German peasants who relied on the animal’s behavior to know when to sow their fields.
If the rodent sees its shadow, because the day is sunny, its keepers in the small town of Punxsutawney conclude that winter will last another six weeks and the mammal can return to hibernate. Conversely, if the marmot emerges and does not see its shadow because the weather is cloudy, winter will soon end.