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Blog: Matt Reese

Be on the lookout for prognosticating groundhogs next week

Early spring hopefuls will soon flock to the nearest prognosticating groundhog to gain meteorological insights into the weeks ahead. Known as Groundhog Day, the U.S. tradition builds upon old German lore associated with predicting the spring weather on Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Feast of the Presentation of our Lord Jesus commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple on Feb. 2.

If Candlemas be fair and bright,

Winter has another flight.

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,

Winter will not come again.

Somewhere along the line someone added the hibernating groundhog and its shadow to the Candlemas tradition and Groundhog Day was later adopted in the U.S. in 1887. While Pennsylvania has the longest running tradition, Ohio is home to two groundhog meteorologists.

From Ohio History Central: “Buckeye Chuck is one of two groundhogs in Ohio known for predicting the arrival of spring. A native of Marion, Ohio, Chuck began predicting spring’s arrival in the 1970s.

“From late September until early April, Buckeye Chuck spends his time hibernating. On Feb. 2, against his will, Chuck emerges from his sleep to predict the weather. In 1979, the Ohio legislature made Buckeye Chuck Ohio’s official groundhog.

“Using groundhogs to predict the weather came from Germany. A long-held German tradition states that if a hibernating animal sees its shadow on Feb. 2, six more weeks of winter will occur. In the United States, this tradition evolved into Groundhog Day. Generally, wild groundhogs live to only two years of age while domesticated ones commonly live to ten years of age. While groundhogs rarely live more than a decade, some people contend that Buckeye Chuck is the same groundhog that has predicted the weather for almost 30 years.”

Jim Noel, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, predicts a warmer wetter than normal winter ahead with a late last freeze date.

“Going forward for the remainder of winter it looks a little warmer and wetter than normal with still significant swings in weather patterns,” Noel said in a recent CORN Newsletter. “The early outlook for spring planting season suggests a slightly warmer than normal season with precipitation normal or slightly above normal. Some planting delays would be possible. Historical data suggests a slightly later than normal last freeze date.”

Will the weatherman and the weather groundhogs of Ohio agree? Only time will tell.

 

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Author: Matt Reese

I grew up on a small farm in northwest Ohio and spent most of my youth writing, doodling, taking pictures, reading and exploring the surrounding farmland. With a family full of teachers, I also grew up around a culture supportive of education. I was active in athletics in high school before graduating from Ohio State University where I studied agricultural communications. This led to my career in agricultural journalism.

I continue to work on the family Christmas tree farm in Hancock County. I married my wonderful wife, Kristin, in 2002. We live on a small farm in Fairfield County with sheep, rabbits and chickens. We have a daughter Campbell Miriam who was born in the fall of 2007 and a son Parker Matthew born in August of 2009. We are active in our local church and with numerous other organizations. I help with the agricultural program at Ohio Christian University in Circleville as well.

I have worked for Ohio’s Country Journal since 1999. I also write a column for numerous newspapers around Ohio, Fresh Country Air and do freelance writing and photography work. I have written and self-published six books to date. To find my books, visit lulu.com and search for “Matt Reese.”

One thought on “Be on the lookout for prognosticating groundhogs next week”

  1. What information do the beat writers give us that Crossing Broad doesn’t? We can figure out starting goalies on Instagram, and they tell us nothing about pending trades or deals…NOTHING…capgeek.com is all you need – the Flyers should just post these releases online….Rob Parent may want to trade in his iPhone for some food stamps pretty soon…

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