Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil weighs in on whether winter will end soon

PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 02:Handler AJ Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil after he did not see his shadow predicting an early spring during the 133rd annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2019 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A crowd of upwards of 30,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pennsylvania — Despite lacking formal meteorology training, Punxsutawney Phil delivers one of the most anticipated weather forecasts of the year.

On Sunday, Phil weighed in on whether there will be six more weeks of winter, or if spring will get an early start.

By failing to see his shadow on Sunday, Phil predicted that winter will come to an end soon, and spring will get underway soon.

The tradition dates back 134 years. According to data, he has seen his shadow 104 times compared to not seeing his shadow 20 times. There is no record from 10 Groundhog Days.

2019 and 2020 mark the first time that Phil has seen his shadow in consecutive years.

Despite the pomp and circumstance around Phil when he wriggles out of his burrow, Phil’s accuracy is dubious.

For instance, in 2017, Phil saw his shadow, meaning six more weeks of winter, but the United States mostly basked in a very warm end to winter. 2017 marked the second-warmest February in recorded US history. March was also mild, marking the ninth-warmest March in recorded US history.

In 2018, Phil saw his shadow, and incorrectly predicted a cool start to spring, according to NOAA data. February ended up being a very warm month for much of the United States, especially in the East. In 2019, Phil did not see his shadow, and February ended up being a warm month for the Northeast.

In the 21st century, Phil has been less than 50 percent accurate with his forecasts.

Several other rodents in the weather prognostication business also foretold an early spring. Neither Buckeye Chuck in Ohio or Staten Island Chuck in New York saw their shadow Sunday morning.

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