Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his bunker early this morning in the northwest hamlet in Pennsylvania and didn’t see his shadow. The resulting prediction is that we can expect an early spring, according to The Washington Post. At precisely 7:25 a.m. Saturday, with overcast skies and frigid temperatures, Groundhog Phil failed to see his shadow in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pa.
If Phil had seen his shadow, as the folklore goes we could’ve expected six more weeks of winter. Exactly what the difference between “six more weeks of winter” and “an early spring” is may be left for debate.
The official Groundhog Day website claims of course that Phil has been 100 percent accurate in his more than 125 years of weather predictions. Since his first prediction at Gobbler’s Knob in 1887, Phil has seen his shadow 100 times and not seen it on just 17 occasions, including today. There are nine missing years in the official record, but Phil has issued a forecast without exception.
NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center throws a wet blanket on the festivities by pointing out that Phil’s forecasts have shown “no predictive skill” in recent years. AccuWeather on the other hand claims the furry rodent has an 80 percent accuracy rate.
In any case, the live entertainment, music and pre-dawn fireworks display helps to invigorate a winter weary crowd that gathers each year in anticipation of Phil's forecast. It’s just what is needed on a cold rural Pennsylvania morning.
Groundhog Day has its origins in an ancient celebration of the midway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Superstition holds that fair weather is seen as prognostication of a stormy and cold second half to winter.