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Will groundhog or woolly worm be more accurate?

Staff Report • Feb 3, 2012 at 8:13 AM

Today is Groundhog Day, which has its roots in a Scottish poem that promises: “If Candlemas be fair and bright, winter has another flight. If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, winter will not come again.”

While many will be watching this morning to see if Punxsutawney Phil — the nation’s best-known weather-forecasting groundhog — sees his shadow in Pennsylvania, it’s doubtful most Americans actually take the weather forecasts of a rodent seriously. If one of these varmints sees his shadow, that is supposed to mean six more weeks of winter. Meanwhile, a groundhog who casts no shadow is taken as a sign that spring is just around the corner.

Since Groundhog Day is set exactly six calendar weeks before the vernal equinox, it’s easy to sniff out the folk humor involved with this tradition. Nonetheless, true believers say groundhogs are right 75 percent of the time.

As we mentioned this time last year, old-timers in our region don’t buy into the theatrics of Groundhog Day. They put their faith in a more trustworthy means of predicting the weather — woolly worms. Folklore tells us that a harsh winter is to come if woolly worms are seen in the fall to be plentiful, slow-moving and have thick coats with wide black bands.

The calendar says spring officially arrives March 20. Until then, we will see if the woolly worm knows more than the groundhog.

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