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Punxsutawney Phil Does Not See Shadow; Predicts Early Spring

Annual Groundhog's Day Ritual Held In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
Alex Wong, Getty Images

Spring will arrive early this year, according to America’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.

Phil did not see his shadow when he emerged from his home in Gobblers Knob, Pa. early Saturday morning. Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow on Feb. 2 winter will last six more weeks. If he doesn’t see his shadow, spring will come early.

The tradition began in 1887, but Phil (and his ancestors) have only predicted an early spring 16 times, according to ABC News. The west-central Pa. groundhog was greeted by a crowd of nearly 20,000 onlookers who came to see his prediction.

Of course, the furry creature’s prognostications are not always accurate. Phil predicted six more weeks of winter in Feb. 2012. That January to June were listed as the warmest seven-month period since systematic records began being kept in 1895, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.

In recent years, other groundhogs have joined the celebration by making their own predictions. “Punxsutawney can’t keep something this big to itself,” according to the National Climactic Data Center. “Other prognosticating rodents are popping up to claim a piece of the action.” Groundhogs in New York, Ontario and Atlanta also make annual predictions on Feb. 2.

Staten Island Chuck, who resides in New York’s Staten Island Zoo, agreed with Phil’s prediction. Chuck predicted an early spring, as he did not see his shadow on Saturday morning.

However, Georgia’s prognosticating groundhog, Gen. Beauregard Lee, saw his shadow early Saturday, therefore predicting six more weeks of winter.

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