PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — A furry critter in a western Pennsylvania town has predicted six more weeks of winter during an annual Groundhog Day celebration.
People gathered Thursday at Gobbler’s Knob as members of Punxsutawney Phil’s “inner circle” summoned the groundhog from his tree stump at dawn to learn if he has seen his shadow — and they say he did. According to folklore, if he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, spring comes early.
The “inner circle” is a group of local dignitaries who are responsible for planning the events, as well as feeding and caring for Phil himself.
The annual event in Punxsutawney, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northeast of Pittsburgh, originated from a German legend about a furry rodent. The gathering annually attracts thousands.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration compared Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast to the national weather the last 10 years and found “on average, Phil has gotten it right 40% of the time.”
This year, Phil’s prediction came during a week when a mess of ice, sleet and snow has lingered across much of the southern U.S.
According to records dating back to 1887, Phil has predicted winter more than 100 times. Ten years were lost because no records were kept, organizers said.
While Punxsutawney Phil may be the most famous groundhog seer, he’s certainly not the only one. New York City’s Staten Island Chuck made his prediction for an early spring during an event Thursday at the Staten Island Zoo. Phil and Chuck are among a broad selection of rodents that purportedly predict weather.