Editor's Notebook March 2022

I'm going tackle a controversial subject in this month's column, one that has been dividing the nation for even longer than our recent issues. I've had enough and I can no longer remain silent. In fact, I believe I'm doing America a service and it's a topic that hits close to home, literally, for all of you. Of course, I'm talking about Groundhog's Day and his "weather prognostication" every Feb. 2.

There are several groundhogs across the United States that offer up their extended winter weather forecast, but the most famous one is in a small western Pennsylvania town (one I've actually been to) called Punxsutawney. And, of course, I'm talking about "Phil."

Every year, right after Phil gives his prediction of how the rest of winter will play out, major media will begin talking about Phil's accuracy. One story I saw just this past Feb. 2 on a major cable news station began pondering whether or not we should even trust Phil because he only has a "40 percent accuracy" in predicting the weather. At another news source, I saw a headline that read, "Three Out of Five Trust Punxsutawney Phil Over Meteorologists." I've even heard people say a few weeks after his prediction, "well, I guess Phil was wrong."

OK, maybe these stories in the media are done in jest? But I don't get the impression or feeling that all of them are. It seems some stories are actually trying to address a problem with Phil's ability to do forecasting. So, here goes the controversial part: Phil's the joke and so is his forecast. It's a "wink-wink" pun and play on words.

His forecast comes down to two possibilities: "Six more weeks of winter" or "Spring is just around the corner." Winter ends on March 21 when spring arrives, roughly six weeks after Feb. 2, so there'll be six more weeks of official winter no matter what weather we get in that timespan. And the other possibility is relative rather than literal. With the way time seems to fly sometimes, six weeks out of an entire year can feel like it's not that far away, hence "right around the corner."

Breaking news: Phil has a 100 percent forecast accuracy record, so let's give the hog a break and not bash him in the media, too. And while we're at it, maybe we could try to have some fun and not take everything so seriously and literally. Long live Phil. P

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