Groundhog Day 2011: Punxsutawney Phil, Victim of Animal Cruelty?


(CBS) It's time once again for that annual mid-winter rite - lifting a reluctant groundhog, or other burrowing animal, out of his cozy hole in the ground to declare that he has/has not seen his shadow, and we will or will not have 6 more weeks of winter.

Surely, this is a form of animal cruelty. How'd you like to be yanked out of bed by the scruff of the neck and dangled without your jammies in front of spotlights and flashbulbs, not to mention being expected to then predict how long winter will last.

Cruelty, indeed.

The most prominent perpetrators of this meteorological malfeasance are the good people of Gobbler's Knob, Pennsylvania, home to that weather-wise woodchuck, Punxsutawney Phil.

As a self-professed weather wacko myself, I admit I am amused - even entertained - by the Phil phoolishness. Still, on the credibility scale it's a little like believing that the recently revised astrological charts are going to change your life. (NOT!)


Citing the Groundhog Day experts at Wikipedia, proponents claim the furry creatures' forecasts are accurate 75% to 90% of the time. Alas, the National Climatic Data Center puts the accuracy rate at around 39%.

That's about as reliable as my increasingly arthritic right knee.

Look, a little high-spirited silliness is good for the nation's soul from time to time, but if groundhogs are so good at predicting the weather, how come they never seem to know when those guys in the ridiculous hats are coming to get them?

Surely there must be something criminal about that.