Pennsylvania’s famed groundhog was roused from slumber at 7:28 a.m. Sunday and, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, directed handler Bill Deeley to a scroll that contained the prediction — along with a Super Bowl reference.
As usual, thousands of fans turned out on Groundhog Day to see the furry rodent, the most famous of a small group of groundhogs said to forecast the weather.
Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another month-and-a-half. If he doesn’t see it, spring will come early.
In reality, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by a group called the Inner Circle, whose members don top hats and tuxedos for the annual ceremony on Gobbler’s Knob, the tiny hill in the town for which he’s named about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
This year’s Groundhog Day celebration marks a winter that has brought extreme cold to vast stretches of the country, including areas of the South wholly unaccustomed to severe winter weather. A snow and ice storm paralyzed Atlanta and other Southern cities last week.
Phil has now seen his shadow 101 times while failing to see it 17 times, according to the Inner Circle. There are no records for the remaining years.
The National Climatic Data Center has put Phil’s forecasts to the test and found them sorely lacking, declaring the groundhog has “no predictive skill.”