Groundhog Day 2018 is tomorrow (Feb. 2), and right now it looks like he (or she) will see his (or her) shadow — and Kane County’s long winter will continue.
According to lore, if a groundhog sees his/her shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he/she does not see his/her shadow, warm weather is near and spring will arrive early.
The National Weather Service Chicago forecast for Kane County, IL, calls for sunny skies and a high near 20 degrees.
C’est la vie.
Celebrate in Woodstock
A perennial question this time of year is: “Who here in Kane County is going to grab a groundhog and make the call on winter’s duration?”
The answer, thankfully, is: “No one in their right mind.”
Therefore, the best and closest-to-home prognostication will come from nearby McHenry County and the woodchuck weather wonder in Woodstock.
While the Punxsutawney Phil groundhog event gets all the national media attention, the Groundhog Day celebration in nearby Woodstock might be just as good or better. Woodstock, of course, is where they shot a good deal of the movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliott, and directed by the late Harold Ramis.
Want some more fun facts about groundhogs and Groundhog Day? Read on, if you dare.
Groundhogs Can Be Pests
While we’ll all be looking for groundhogs on Feb. 2, the Aurora’s Animal Control Division actually has a webpage worth of step-by-step instructions on how to get rid of them.
Groundhogs are expert diggers and healthy eaters, so some common complaints are large burrows next to a house, concrete collapsing due to digging and garden or crops being eaten.
More Fun Facts
Valerie Blaine, nature programs manager for the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, shares a load of fun facts about the groundhog, or woodchuck, in this KCC article, which we posted around this time two years ago.
Weighing in at about 10 pounds, the woodchuck is a hefty rodent, Blaine says. Despite his bulky body and lumbering gait, the woodchuck can boogie when he needs to escape a predator. Woodchucks run at a loping gallop of about 10 mph.
“They do occasionally climb trees to reach food or escape a predator,” Blaine says. “Or perhaps just to prove that they can.”
Why Timing Matters
According a very cool National Geographic article, “9 Things You Didn’t Know About Groundhogs,” the males of the species are especially good barometers of the end of winter, and for a very good reason.
“Groundhogs have to know just when to emerge from hibernation to mate so that their offspring will have the best chance of survival,” the article says. “If their instincts are that good, I’ll take the groundhog’s shadow over your average weatherman any day of the year.”
“Just be careful out there,” might be the best advice to any groundog/woodchuck venturing out to see his/her shadow on Friday.