Groundhog Day 2018: Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow

Punxsutawney Phil courtesy Facebook

Winter isn’t going anywhere.

The famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Friday morning, which means an early spring isn’t on its way, according to local lore.

Thousands of revelers were on hand in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, to witness Phil’s annual prediction on how long the North American winter will last. According to legend, if the rodent emerges from his dwelling and sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter should be expected.

But if Phil doesn’t see his shadow, spring is in for an early arrival.

His prediction this year comes after record-breaking freezing temperatures across North America and an unusually powerful winter storm known as a “bomb cyclone.”

Groundhogs, portly rodents belonging to the squirrel family, have been offering weather predictions in the tiny town since 1887.

The annual Groundhog Day event, made more popular by the 1993 comedy film “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray, draws faithful followers from as far away as Australia and Russia. This year will be the 132nd ceremony.

Phil is not the only weather-predicting groundhog on the East Coast. His competitor, a groundhog named Chuck, was also slated to make predictions in the New York City borough of Staten Island on Friday. He famously bit former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the ceremony in 2009. 

[EARLIER STORY] Jennifer Early, Fox News

Did the groundhog see its shadow? That’s the question that will be on everyone’s minds as they awake early Friday, which also happens to be Groundhog Day.

It’s a century-old tradition that people can’t get enough of—Punxsutawney Phil, the United States’ most famous groundhog, comes out of hibernation on Feb. 2 and forecasts the weather for the six weeks to follow.

If the rodent sees its shadow, then it will retreat back to its burrow and winter will continue, according to legend. But if it doesn’t see a shadow, due to overcast skies, then spring will allegedly arrive early.

The top hat and tuxedo-wearing members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle decide the forecast ahead of time and reveal the prediction on Feb. 2.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the big day.

How can I watch?

You can watch the festivities at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Penn., via live stream starting at 5:45 a.m. ET But Punxsutawney Phil, the “Prognosticator of Prognosticators,” isn’t expected to make his annual weather prediction until 7:25 a.m. ET.

However, the party starts way before that. The gates at Gobbler’s Knob open at 3 a.m. ET.

How accurate are Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions?

Phil may be the most famous groundhog in the U.S., but he isn’t the most accurate.

The four-legged creature only has a 39 percent accuracy, according to Stormfax Almanac‘s data. Phil sees his shadow about 85 percent of the time.

A look at records dating back to 1887, when the tradition started, show Phil has seen his shadow 103 times and hasn’t seen it just 18 times. There are nine years that weren’t reported.

How did Groundhog Day get started?

The Groundhog Day celebration started when Germans – Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers – introduced Candlemas Day, a Christian holiday celebrated on Feb. 2, to the state.

On Feb. 2, the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox, Germans turned to badgers to predict the future of the weather. But when they moved to Pennsylvania, they found another creature to take its place.

“The settlers found that groundhogs were plentiful and were the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day,” according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

How did the tradition in Punxsutawney become so popular?

The tradition grew in popularity in 1993 with the release of the comedy “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray. Murray, who plays a weatherman in the film, gets trapped in a time warp and has to relive the day over and over again until he gets it right.

Before the movie premiered, Phil was lucky to have a couple hundred people attend the event. Now thousands of people from across the country travel to the small town of Punxsutawney, located 84 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

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