Meet the legend of Punxsutawney Phil

USA News

Here we are … again! Another Groundhog Day prediction coming. 

Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most famous groundhog, is expected to be coaxed from his burrow in western Pennsylvania early Feb. 2 as a nation waits to find out whether we’ll have an early spring or six more weeks of cold and snow.

Unfortunately, based on weather data, “there is no predictive skill for the groundhog during the most recent years of the analysis,” according to a report released in last year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina.

From 2011 through 2022, Phil has a 50% accuracy rate, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Phil correctly forecasted 107 lengthy winters between 1887 and 2020 but only 20 early springtimes. There were nine years throughout that period for which Phil’s forecast was undocumented.

Though Groundhog Day is just some midwinter fun, climate records say winter probably isn’t over, according to the NOAA. Climatologically speaking, the three coldest months of the year in the USA are December, January and February, so winter typically still has a ways to go when the groundhog comes out.

In Punxsutawney, 1886 marked the first time Groundhog Day appeared in the newspaper, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The following year brought the first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob. Each year since then has seen a steady increase in participation of the celebration by people all over the world.

Groundhog Day’s origins lie in an ancient European celebration of Candlemas, a point midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox – the exact midpoint of astronomical winter.

Superstition has it that fair weather predicted a stormy and cold second half to winter, as noted in this Old English saying:

Meteorologists may shake their heads, but many people look outside and remember sayings their grandparents taught them about how to use nature to predict the weather. Here’s a sample of many myths that remain:

Move over, Punxsutawney Phil – you’re not the only animal meteorologist in the town. An armadillo, a possum and even a rattlesnake are expected to predict the weather this February. They include West Virginia’s French Creek Freddie, Georgia’s Gen. Beauregard Lee, Ohio’s Buckeye Chuck, North Carolina’s Sir Walter Wally, Louisiana’s Cajun Groundhog, Alabama’s Smith Lake Jake, Wisconsin’s Jimmy and New York’s Staten Island Chuck (full name: Charles G. Hogg).

But the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has declared Phil the authoritative groundhog in this quirky myth. 

Forty-nine states celebrate Groundhog Day. In 2009, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin signed a bill that declared Feb. 2 Marmot Day because there aren’t that many groundhogs in Alaska. 



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