Groundhog predicts early spring, but don't get too excited

If he sees his shadow, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.

This year marks the 133rd Groundhog Day celebration, which occurs annually at Gobbler's Knob in the 5,500-person town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

In the U.S., Groundhog Day dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The groundhog made his official prediction this morning at 7:25. This, his male handlers in top hats dramatically said, signals an early start to spring and an end to winter.

As the Midwest and East Coast try to recover from this week's unsafe Arctic blast, Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog geared up to reveal whether an early spring is on the way or if winter will stick around.

For a groundhog, Phil is surprisingly accurate.

Phil aka Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, Weather Predictor Extraordinaire, National Treasure and Most Photographed Pennsylvanian, has lead an extraordinary life.

This time of year, "I don't think there's ever been a case where we've seen [such a big] shift in temperatures", Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the Weather Underground, recently told USA Today.

According to Stormfax, Phil's predictions have been correct in 39 percent of the time.

Groundhog Day still not making sense? Pennsylvania German settlers pulled the tradition from European weather lore that used the appearance of hibernators, like badgers, as a sign it was time to prepare for spring. "All hail groundhog supremacy", the Inner Circle president said, as Phil was presented to the crowd. Some of the events listed on the schedule include chain saw carving demos, a screening of the film Groundhog Day, the "Gobbler's Knob Got Talent" talent show and the Groundhog Ball, to name a few.

  • Jon Douglas