PEND OREILLE COUNTY, Wash. — Move aside, Punxsutawney Phil. Two prairie dogs out of Pend Oreille County are issuing their own forecast for the remainder of the winter on Groundhog Day.
Legend has it, if famous Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow on Groundhog Day, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, spring is right around the corner.
Two more local amateur meteorologists, prarie dogs Flurry and Snowy, predicted spring will come early this year after not seeing their shadows when they ventured outside on Tuesday.
Snowy and Flurry have been predicting just when spring will come for ten years now. The pair takes after their owner Bob Lutz (not to be confused with Spokane County's former Health Officer), who runs a climatology website of his own, climatehawk.org.
Lutz's son, Tim Lutz, says Snowy and Flurry's prediction could mean an early fishing season this year.
However, in recent years, the pair's predictions have been less than stellar. For 2020 Lutz rated his prairie dog's forecast "Fair," but for 2019 the forecast is rated "very poor." Snowy didn't see her shadow that year, but the Inland Northwest was still treated to snow and arctic air. The last time their forecast was rated excellent was in 2017, when "Snowy DID see her shadow and winter did indeed continue."
Lutz says the rodents get it right about 50% of the time.
Lutz even gave the prairie dogs a bath before the big day. He said they only need about two baths a year. Snowy and Flurry do not enjoy them, but it helps keep their fur healthy.
Pend Oreille Prairie dogs give their own winter forecast on Groundhog Day
Lutz used to have a groundhog that was an offspring of Punxsutawney Phil, but he said groundhogs are difficult pets to keep due to their hibernation schedules.
Luckily Snowy and Flurry have taken up the mantle, and the Inland Northwest can still get its own special prediction about how long winter will continue.