All eyes will be on Punxsutawney Phil this Friday morning for Groundhog Day in Pennsylvania where, according to legend, we will find out if an early spring is around the corner or if we have to slog through six more weeks of winter.
Phil will make his prediction around sunrise: The groundhog will emerge near the midway point of astronomical winter at 7:28 a.m. ET.
If the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter, according to legend. But if he doesn’t, an early spring and above-average temperatures are on the way.
Groundhog Club handler A.J. Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 137th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023.
Here’s what the forecast for Friday morning favors: Cloudy conditions and temperatures in the mid-30s are expected in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The lack of direct sunlight because of the clouds would imply Phil is unlikely to see his shadow, and we are headed for an early start to spring.
History shows that Phil seeing his shadow is the more likely outcome: Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow about five times more often than he hasn’t, based on historical records. Last year followed that same script.
Phil has now seen his shadow 107 times, with no shadow 20 times (10 years of data are missing), according to records from 1887 through 2023.
Shadow or no shadow, Phil is not a good forecaster: Overall, the groundhog is not very accurate, and NOAA said Punxsutawney Phil has “no predictive skill.”
Of course, even the organizers of the annual Groundhog Day event in western Pennsylvania acknowledge that turning to a large rodent for weather forecasting is mostly a way to break up winter monotony.
Phil’s accuracy was just 40% from 2013 to 2022, according to data compiled by NOAA.
Last year’s declaration of six more weeks of winter was a mixed bag result depending on where you live. Much of the West was colder than average in February and March, which goes right along with Phil’s verdict. The East, however, didn’t follow that script and was warmer than average, especially in February.
Here’s when Groundhog Day began: The first mention of Groundhog Day came in 1886 in Punxsutawney.
Over the years, several other locations have begun using their own groundhog, including General Beauregard Lee of Atlanta, Dunkirk Dave of Dunkirk, New York, and Jimmy of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.