Friday, March 22, 2013

Ohio prosecutor indicts groundhog

Butler County, Ohio, prosecutor Mike Gmoser has indicted Punxsutawney Phil, the "official" weather predictor of Gobbler's Knob, Pennsylvania. Legend has it that on February 2 each year, groundhogs emerge from their hibernation and look around. If they see their shadow, they return to their burrows and there will be six more weeks of winter. If they don't, there will be an early spring.

Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, has built events around Groundhog Day since at least 1887and has become the official prediction site in the public mind. Their anointed groundhog is Phil, who predicted an early spring this year. The first day of spring has come and gone, and winter keeps its hold on the whole eastern United States. The folks in southwest Ohio have simply had enough winter and have laid the blame squarely at Phil's feet. Officials of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club have vowed to fight extradition.

Groundhog Day has its roots in Candlemas Day, on which day the weather was thought to predict weather yet to come. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's web site contains several songs and sayings from Europe that link Candlemas to weather, such as this song from England:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

 German immigrants are credited with bringing the tradition to North America and with selecting the groundhog as the prognosticator.

The folks in Ohio and Pennsylvania both seem to be enjoying this diversion from winter weather that has stayed beyond its shelf life. And isn't it wonderful that a prosecutor has nothing better to do than indict a groundhog for blowing a forecast? Watch your backs, all you meteorologists on television!

UPDATE: Prosecutor Mike Gmoser is now calling for the death penalty for Punxsutawney Phil. And he almost kept a straight face when he made the announcement on television.


  1. I wish we could blame our continuing winter on someone (or something). I'm not the only one feeling very fed up of it.

  2. Goodness knows they need some comic relief. Too funny.

  3. It has really ruffled some feathers, that's for sure. The missing Spring seems to be the top of everyone's list. I enjoyed reading the history because I love the tradition. Takes me back to my grade school days.

  4. Poor Phil! trying to pin this weather on a big rodent is just wrong.

  5. I blame the weather forecasters. If only I could dig myself out of my snow-covered drive I would post a letter to the Prosecutor asking him to pardon the poor creature.