Throwback Thursday - Groundhog Day ‘84

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 9:15 AM EST
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Since the dawn of time people have used many different methods to try and predict the weather, and that includes the use of large rodents. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard has this week’s Throwback Thursday.

Following the predictions of someone who is hundreds or thousands of miles away from the forecasted area is strange enough, let alone when that someone is a groundhog. Here in the county we have our own groundhogs, or woodchucks as I learned growing up, so why should Aroostook County take the word of a groundhog in Pennsylvania? That’s a question WAGM Reporter Frank Graff and Cameraman Dick Martin set out to answer 39 years ago today. In this week’s Throwback Thursday we dial the Time Machine back to February 2nd, 1984.

Winters here in Northern Maine are usually long and rather nasty, at least nastier than most parts of the country. And though today is a rather nice day, you may wonder what I’m doing out here, well, if you look at your calendar you’ll see that today is groundhogs day.

The custom of groundhogs day was brought to America by early settlers from Great Britain and Germany. They believed it was a way to forecast the weather for the next 6 weeks. According to legend, the groundhog, or woodchuck comes out of it’s burrow on February 2nd. If the day is cloudy and the groundhog cannot see it’s shadow it stays out of it’s hole that means spring weather is supposedly on it’s way. But if the sun is shining and the groundhog can see it’s shadow, it’s frightened and crawls back into it’s hole. That means there’s 6 more weeks of winter weather on the way.

We didn’t feel we could trust Punxsutawney Phil, the nation’s official groundhog, after all winters in Pennsylvania are different than winters here in Maine, and he’s only been right 35% of the time. So we thought we’d try to find our own groundhog. So, Cameraman Dick Martin and I set out to find the elusive groundhog, profit of spring or winter weather. We looked everywhere, in snow drifts, around bushes and behind trees, all through the forrest, but to no avail. Finally we enlisted some professional help.”

“Groundhogs very early in fact usually after the first frost in September, go into their burrows and they don’t come out again until late February, early march. The groundhog is busy all summer long getting fat, by fall he usually weighs about 16 pounds and over the course of the winter he uses that stored fat for food and by spring he’s usually down to about 5 pounds.”

“What are the chances of finding a groundhog today?”

“Actually they’re very slim.”

So it appears the Aroostook County groundhog doesn’t believe in Groundhogs day. He’s spending the cold snowy winter down there, tucked between a few feet of soil and a few feet of snow in a nice warm burrow, sleeping away. The groundhog is smarter than I thought he was.

Frank Graff, NewsLine8