UNITED STATES NEWS

Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring at Groundhog Day festivities

Feb 2, 2024, 6:00 AM | Updated: 9:16 am

Groundhog Club handler A.J. Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog,...

Groundhog Club handler A.J. Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 138th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

(AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring on an overcast Friday morning at Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania, the scene of the largest and best-known Groundhog Day celebration in the United States.

The annual event is a tongue-in-cheek ritual in which Phil’s handlers, members of a club with roots in the late 19th century, reveal whether the groundhog has seen his shadow.

Just after sunrise Friday, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club announced Phil did not see his shadow, which will usher in early springlike weather. The groundhog seeing his shadow presages six more weeks of winter, according to the group.

Before the announcement, President Tom Dunkel, in the traditional top hat and tuxedo worn by the club’s inner circle, explained that his cane, handed down from previous presidents, including his father, gave him the power to speak “Groundhog-ese” and that Phil would tell him which of two scrolls to use. At Dunkel’s direction, the crowd helped fire-up the groundhog with repeated chants of “Phil!” before a club member pulled the groundhog from a door in a stump on the stage and held it aloft.

Dunkel and other club members leaned over the stump where the groundhog sat before Dunkel pointed to one of two scrolls with the cane and announced that they had a decision.

Vice President Dan McGinley read the decision, written in verse and filled with quips about the groundhog’s envy for humans’ opposable thumbs and hopes to garner some Punxsutawney Phil write-in votes in 2024, from the chosen scroll and announced, “Glad tidings on this Groundhog Day, an early spring is on the way!”

About 10,000 people have made their way in recent years to Punxsutawney, where festivities begin in the dead of night and culminate in the midwinter forecast. A bundled-up crowd, some wearing groundhog-themed hats, watched musical performances and fireworks as they waited for sunrise and the appearance of Punxsutawney Phil.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro took the stage before Phil to urge people around the world watching the festivities to come to Punxsutawney next year. Shapiro also announced the famed groundhog is the new official meteorologist for Pennsylvania.

“Punxsutawney is the center of the universe right now and I love that you’re all here,” Shapiro said.

Phil predicts more winter far more often than he sees an early spring, not a bad bet for February and March in western Pennsylvania. A federal agency took a look at his record last year and put his accuracy rate at about 40%.

As the morning progressed, something like a groundhog consensus emerged, backing Punxsutawney Phil’s prognostication of an early spring. Among more than a dozen reports of weather predicting groundhogs in the U.S. and Canada early Friday, 10 were on Phil’s side and just three warned of six more weeks of winter.

Octoraro Orphie in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, a rival of the Punxsutawney groundhog for more than a century, says the cold will be around for awhile. But groundhogs in Staten Island, New York; Nova Scotia and Quebec in Canada; Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois and Ohio were all on Phil’s side — an early spring.

The tradition of celebrating the midpoint between the shortest day of the year on the winter solstice and the spring equinox goes back many centuries in European farm life.

There are more than a dozen active groundhog clubs in Pennsylvania, some dating back to the 1930s, and weather-predicting groundhogs have appeared in at least 28 U.S. states and Canadian provinces.

The 1993 blockbuster film “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray, fueled interest in Punxsutawney Phil and inspired informal observations far and wide.

When he’s not making his annual prognostication, Phil lives in a customized space beside the Punxsutawney Memorial Library, with a window where library patrons can check out his burrow. Back in 2009, library workers said Phil had somehow managed to escape three times, climbing into the library ceiling and dropping into offices about 50 feet (15 meters) away. He wasn’t injured.

United States News

Associated Press

Tornado kills multiple people in Iowa as powerful storms again tear through Midwest

GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — Multiple people were killed when a tornado tore through Greenfield and left a wide swath of obliterated homes, crumpled cars and splintered trees, while outside the small town, massive wind turbines were buckled and twisted to the ground by the howling winds. After devastating the town of 2,000 residents, the storms […]

7 hours ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom next to his lawyer Todd Blanche before the start ...

Associated Press

Trump hush money trial enters new phase after defense rests without testimony from former president

Donald Trump's hush money trial is now closer to the moment when the jury will begin deciding the former president's fate.

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Rangers recover the body of a Japanese climber who died on North America’s tallest peak

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Rangers have recovered the body of a Japanese man who died after an apparent fall while climbing North America’s tallest peak, authorities said Tuesday. Denali National Park and Preserve identified the climber as T. Hagiwara, from Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. He was identified by his first initial in keeping with his family’s […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Detroit could be without Black representation in Congress again with top candidate off the ballot

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Detroit Democrat will not appear on the ballot after building significant support within the party in his attempt to unseat U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar in Michigan’s August primary, after election officials determined that he had not submitted enough valid signatures. Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett’s ruling on Tuesday to keep […]

11 hours ago

DeAnn Kilgore grappled with the unexpected letter from her husband's killer, Michael Moore. Despite...

SuElen Rivera

Letters lead to meeting killer, life-changing moment

DeAnn Kilgore grappled with the unexpected letter from her husband's killer, Michael Moore. Despite initial reluctance, she read it, prompting a profound journey of forgiveness and spiritual healing for herself and her family.

12 hours ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring at Groundhog Day festivities