The nation turned its sleepy eyes again toward Punxsutawney, Pa., early Saturday morning, Groundhog's Day, once more intent on finding out from the resident groundhog, Phil, whether or not he would discern his shadow and predict an early Spring or a prolongation of Winter by another six weeks. And Phil did not disappoint.
According to ABC News, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow at 7:30 a.m. (EST) at Gobbler's Knob and did not see his shadow. Folklore has it that a groundhog emerging from hibernation that isn't frightened by his shadow to return to hibernating for another six weeks (due to inclement weather) is indicative of an early break in the cold weather.
The rotund Pennsylvania rodent has been making his prognostication since 1887, according to The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. Punxsutawney Phil and his forebears have seen their shadows 100 times over the years. There have been only 16 predictions of an early Spring in all that time (there is no record for nine years and one year was recorded as "Probably no shadow").
But in that time, Phil has gotten a little competition in his forecasting. Depending on local weather conditions, some of his colleagues have been found to be in disagreement with him.
This year, most are in agreement. However, Gen. Beauregard Lee in Lilburn, Ga. (outside of Atlanta), finds himself nearly alone in predicting six weeks more of bad weather. Woody, of the Natural Science Center (Greensboro, N.C.), saw his shadow as well.
Birmingham Bill, a resident of the Birmingham (Ala.) Zoo, agreed with Punxsutawney Phil. He was joined by New York's Staten Island Chuck, Ohio's Buckeye Chuck and Jimmy the Groundhog of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
Still, according to the National Climatic Data Center, Phil and his furry friends are often inaccurate in their forecasts. Of course, seeing one's shadow 100 times out of 117 recorded instances of forecasting, the law of averages would come into play. 2012's Groundhog's Day saw Phil predict six more weeks of bad weather, but the year turned out to have one of the warmest Winter's ever (since 1895). He was also a lonely prognosticator, all the other groundhogs predicting an early Spring.