FRENCH CREEK, W.Va. – Meteorologists play a vital role in getting you the most accurate forecast here in north-central West Virginia. But how accurate is the weather from a groundhog?
“He’s right…most of the time,” said West Virginia Wildlife Center Secretary and Groundhog Festival Co-Chairperson Judy Channell.
That’s because French Creek Freddie has all the time in the world to hibernate in his burrow.
“When the weather cools down, typically the groundhogs between October and early November – they will go into hibernation. And then they will stay in hibernation until the first part of February,” explained West Virginia Wildlife Center Wildlife Technician Kenny Hall.
That is when the largest animal in the squirrel family wakes up and starts to become the furry forecaster that we know him to be.
“Well, if he sees his shadow, it’s six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, it’s an early Spring,” stated Hall.
French Creek Freddie the forecaster has been giving his prediction since 1978 and has been accurate more than 60-percent of the time during that 43-year span, including last year when the majority of our snow fell in February and March.
According to the West Virginia Wildlife Center, 14.5 inches of snow fell in French Creek from Groundhog Day on February 2nd through the first day of Spring 2019. Three inches of those 14.5 happened on Groundhog Day, after Freddie saw his shadow.
But is he a match for his more famous Pennsylvania neighbor, Punxsutawney Phil?
Well, they’re distant cousins. We don’t think of Phil as competition because they have different regions that they are forecasting for,” explained Channell.
And on Sunday, our local groundhog to north-central West Virginia will let us know if we’re going to see an early Spring or six more weeks of winter.