Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil Forecasts Early Spring

Handler AJ Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil after he did not see his shadow predicting an early spring during the 133rd annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2019 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A crowd of upwards of 30,000 people …
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

The Pennsylvania groundhog known as America’s most famous weather forecaster — Punxsutawney Phil — did not see his shadow Saturday morning, forecasting an early spring.

Punxsutawney Phil and his top hat-wearing comrades revealed their weather predictions to the public Saturday morning at sunrise, although the group decides on Phil’s forecast ahead of time on a tiny hill called Gobbler’s Knob, located in western Pennsylvania 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Phil made his 133rd recorded appearance on Saturday. It is only the 19th time out of the 123 recorded appearances that Phil has seen his shadow, the York Daily Record reported.

Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow on February 2, he will go back into hibernation, and there will be six more weeks of winter. But if the rodent does not see his shadow because of overcast skies, spring will come early.

Phil was not the only groundhog who predicted spring would come early. His New York counterpart, Staten Island Chuck, also predicted an early spring.

Despite Phil and other groundhogs’ predictions of an early spring, meteorologists said the groundhogs do not have an advantage in predicting the weather during the past few years. Since 1988, the national average temperature in the U.S. matched Phil’s prediction only 14 times in 31 years.

“There is no predictive skill for the groundhog during the most recent years of the analysis,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information states on its website.

The groundhog’s prediction is reassuring news for folks on the East Coast and in the Midwest, both areas hit hard by historically low temperatures and snow brought on by the polar vortex.


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