By Liz Taurasi
On Sunday morning, as they have for years, people will gather in Punxsutawney, PA to watch as Punxsutawney Phil leaves his burrow to observe the weather and look for his shadow. That prediction is something many across the country are looking forward to following an extremely cold, ice and snow filled winter.
Phil is expected to make his prediction at 7:20 a.m. on Sunday morning when he emerges from his dwelling at Gobblers Knob.
Groundhog history tells us if the groundhog sees his shadow, he takes it as an omen of six more weeks of winter and returns to his hole. If he comes out of hibernation and it’s a cloudy day, there’s no shadow, and it means spring is coming early.
In 2013, Phil predicted an early spring. In 2012, it was six more weeks of winter. So you never know what could happen.
The good news is it looks like it may be cloudy Sunday in Punxsutawney. The current forecast is calling for rain and snow showers with a high of 39 degrees. Looking good for not having that pesky shadow show up and hopefully bringing us an early, much-deserved spring.
Some Groundhog Day Fun Facts
How did such an unassuming creature, whose yearly prediction is accurate only 39 percent of the time, become the center of such an enduring tradition? As it turns out, Phil and his counterparts have been predicting the weather for quite some time — since 1887, according to an article in the Huffington Post. And though the tradition’s origins are unclear, it is believed to have come from ancient European weather lore in which a badger or sacred bear predicted the weather. The tradition also has religious origins, as it shares similarities with Candlemas Day, which is also on Feb. 2.
But that’s not the whole story of Phil, his lore or his longevity—not even close. Other facts of note, gathered from various resources, include:
There’s only one Phil. Although groundhogs live for around 10 years in captivity, Phil loyalists insist there has only been one Punxsutawney Phil since his first appearance in the 1880s. According to the official website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Phil is given a sip of special groundhog punch every year, which extends his life and allows him to keep making predictions. (csmonitor.com)
The average groundhog is 20 inches long and normally weighs from 12 to 15 pounds. Punxsutawney Phil weighs about 20 pounds and is 22 inches long. (groundhog.org)
The National Climatic Data Center reportedly stated that Phil's predictions have been correct 39 percent of the time. This number is in conflict with Phil's club, which states he's been right 100 percent of the time. (Huffington Post)
In the years following the release of the film Groundhog Day, crowds numbering as high as 30,000 have visited Gobbler's Knob, the tiny hill in Punxsutawney where the yearly ceremony takes place. (Huffington Post)
He may be older than your grandpa’s grandpa, but Phil has adapted with the times. He broke telecommunications ground for rodents in 2010 by allowing people to sign up for a text message notification of his prediction and also updates his Facebook status and tweets his prediction, as he did this morning. (csmonitor.com)