Longer winter or early spring? Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction

He’s an animal that gained worldwide fame by featuring in the 1993 Hollywood film Groundhog Day.

Now it that’s time again when Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania makes his prediction – the 134th – about whether it will be an early spring or six more weeks of winter.

The planet’s most famous groundhog has declared it will be the former – which is rare as records dating back to 1887 show the cuddly oracle has forecast a longer winter more than 100 times.

Punxsutawney Phil
Image: The groundhog declared it would be an early spring

In more recent years, from 2015-2019, Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter three times and an early spring twice.

The superstition says that if the groundhog emerges from its burrow after hibernation on 2 February – Groundhog Day – and sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and it will be a longer winter.

But if it does not see its shadow because of cloudy conditions, spring will come early.

This time around in Punxsutawney, the groundhog was hoisted in the air for those gathered around him to hail before making his decision.

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Crowds
Image: A large crowd gathered for the annual event

He then grasped the glove of a handler as a member of his inner circle announced spring would come early.

In reality, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by his top hat-wearing inner circle on Gobbler’s Knob, a small hill outside Punxsutawney, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

In the wild, groundhogs can live up to six years. In captivity, groundhogs are thought to live up to 14 years.