I have been fascinated with Punxsutawney Phil since I was a child, and I am not the only one. Phil has an entire society dedicated to his care and the promotion of Groundhog’s Day. People travel from all over to stand on Gobbler’s Knob to get just a glimpse of Phil and hear his famous proclamation. Will there be six more weeks of winter or an early spring?
It is hard to believe that we have listened to a rodent’s predictions since 1887, but the tradition goes back even further. In the old country, German settlers had once used hedgehogs; they switched to groundhogs when they found them aplenty in their new home of Pennsylvania.
Phil might be the most famous weather-predicting animal, but he is not the only one. It seems that weather-predicting animals are more common than you might think, and just like football or hockey teams, the locals are very loyal to the home team. Here are a few lesser-known but equally important weather “men.”
Thistle the Whistlepig
- Marion, Ohio
- Ohio’s official weather predicting groundhog (Ohio General Assembly 1979)
- There remains speculation as to whether this is the same groundhog as in ’79 but no one is talking.
- Scientific Name: Marmota monax
Pierre C. Shadeaux
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Whistlepig is another name for a groundhog. They will sit upright to check for danger and if they spot any will make a short whistle.
- Female Groundhog
- 2016 first prediction
T-Boy the Nutria (New Orleans, LA)
- New Iberia, LA
- Nutria (a large herbivorous semiaquatic rodent)
- An essay contest is held each year, where students write about why Pierre is so important.
- Specializes in South Louisiana weather
- Recently been accused of being blind (satire article) based on his predictions
Staten Island Chuck
- New Orleans, LA
- Lives at the Audubon Zoo
- Cajun version of Groundhog Day
- Predicts weather for Mardi Gras
- Staten Island, NY
- Formally known as Charles G. Hogg
- Lives at the Staten Island Zoo
- Started predicting the weather in 1981
- Bit NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009
- Has his own children's book
- Bruce County, Ontario
- Has his own festival, Wiarton Willie Festival
- Albino Groundhog
- It all started in 1957 with the town jokester Mac McKenzie, a reporter, and a white fur hat!
- A statue of Wiarton Willie can be found in Bluewater Park in Wiarton Ontario.
According to NOAA.gov in the past ten years Phil has accurately predicted the weather 40% of the time. Are your local weatherman's stats better than Phil's and his friends?