Published: Sun, February 03, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

Early spring predicted as groundhog does not see shadow

Early spring predicted as groundhog does not see shadow

The announcement came at the official ceremony at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania early Saturday morning.

The 2019 ceremony marks Phil's 133rd year making his prediction. This, his male handlers in top hats dramatically said, signals an early start to spring and an end to winter.

According to tradition, if he sees his shadow, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.

TIME tested the accuracy of various groundhogs based on their ability to predict the weather of their relative geographic area. This is a rare "prediction" considering Phil sees his shadow about 80% of the time.

A proclamation will be read aloud that determines if Phil has seen his shadow (meaning six more weeks of winter) or hasn't, which purportedly means an early spring.

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The immigrants' Candlemas tradition traces back as far as the early 1700s when they began arriving in Pennsylvania.

Mother Nature hadn't been all that kind to the region as Groundhog Day approached.

A statement on their website states: "Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting groundhog". On that day, superstition held that if it were sunny and clear, a long winter was expected. They also whistle when searching for a female groundhog, giving the creatures the nickname of "whistle pigs".

Phil's annual prediction draws thousands of revelers to the town of Punxsutawney, about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, every year.

If you want to do some of your own Groundhog Day celebrating over on this side of the pond, you're in luck, because Sky Cinema is aptly showing the film Groundhog Day on a loop from 6am until 11:30pm.

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