Watch: Punxsutawney Phil does not see his shadow on Groundhog Day 2024

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (CBS) — Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow on Groundhog Day 2024, meaning an early spring is on the way.

Like most Feb. 2s in the past 137 years, crowds gathered at Gobbler’s Knob to hear Punxsutawney Phil make his prediction.

Phil, the groundhog and purported weather sage, emerged before 7:30 a.m. to show the world what to expect for the rest of winter.

READ MORE from CBS Pittsburgh: How did Groundhog Day begin? The origins of Punxsutawney Phil

He didn’t see his shadow, so that means an early spring is likely. Phil largely favors predicting six more weeks of winter, so this is unusual.

You can watch in the video player above.

The ceremony is run by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, which takes care of Phil and even maintains his Cameo page – where, for only $199, you can buy a video wishing your loved ones a happy Groundhog Day.

Groundhog Day is a huge tourism draw for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a town in Jefferson County about a 90-minute drive northeast of Pittsburgh. 

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A person in the crowd at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. holds a sign reading “Phavorite Weather Man” with a drawing of Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, 2024.

Pennsylvania Cable Network/PCN via CBS News Philadelphia


What time does Punxsutawney Phil look for his shadow?

Phil emerged sometime after 7 a.m. Eastern.

What does it mean if Phil the groundhog sees his shadow?

The prediction – or prognostication, as The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club calls it – focuses on what to expect with the weather for the next six weeks.

If Phil sees his shadow, that means six more weeks of winter.

If Phil doesn’t see his shadow, it means spring is on the way.

The PGC maintains a list of Phil’s prognostications dating back to 1886 (though it appears it was last updated in 2017). According to that list, Phil saw his shadow 103 times and did not see it 18 times. There are also 10 Groundhog Days for which there is no record of what Phil saw.

Is Groundhog Day accurate? How many times has Phil been right?

CBS News said it best – “he’s a groundhog, not a meteorologist.”

As cute as Phil is, he’s only right less than half the time, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports.

It also depends on how you calculate “six more weeks of winter” and the return of spring. NOAA analyzed Phil’s 2022 forecast, where Phil saw his shadow and prognosticated six more weeks of winter.

RELATED: The bizarre history of Groundhog Day

After that prediction, the U.S. saw slightly below average temperatures in February 2022 and a warmer-than-average March 2022.

NOAA says Phil’s first forecast was accurate for many regions but fell short for several others. They rated him as right 40% of the time between his first forecast and 2022.

In the ultimate diss, animal rights organization PETA said Phil’s accuracy was tantamount to “a coin flip” and suggested that he be replaced with a giant coin on Groundhog Day to predict the continuance or truncation of wintry weather.

What an actual human meteorologist thinks about Phil’s predictions

An hour earlier than Phil and right on the money, CBS Philadelphia Meteorologist Kate Bilo emerged from behind a stump on our set and projected an early spring.

Because of the El Nino pattern this year, it’s likely the Northeast United States will have above average temperatures through the rest of winter, Kate said. El Nino winters tend to be milder, and we could even see some spring-like days soon.


Groundhog Day 2024: How often is Punxsutawney Phil right? by
CBS Philadelphia on
YouTube

Why is Groundhog Day celebrated?

The tradition exploded in popularity after the 1993 Bill Murray movie, “Groundhog Day,” but the custom has roots in European agricultural life, according to the Associated Press. Feb. 2 marks the midpoint between the shortest day of the year on the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

It’s also a time of year that figures in the Celtic calendar and the Christian holiday of Candlemas.

And in eastern and central Pennsylvania, where people of German descent have been watching the groundhog’s annual emergence from hibernation for centuries, there’s a tradition of groundhog clubs and celebrations that are independent of Phil.

The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob, where Phil lives, was in 1997, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

READ MORE: Other rodents that purport to “predict” weather

There have been weather-predicting groundhogs in at least 28 U.S. states and Canadian provinces, and less formal celebrations far and wide. There’s a New York-based groundhog named Staten Island Chuck, who former Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped 10 years ago today.

Out in Punxsutawney, the goal is more whimsy than accuracy.

“We know this is silly; we know this is fun,” said Marcy Galando, executive director of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, told the AP. “We want people to come here with a sense of humor.”

First appeared on www.cbsnews.com

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