Groundhog Day 2023: Did Punxsutawney Phil See His Shadow?
Groundhog Day 2023 is here, and it seems gloves, scarves, and hats are here to stay at least for a little bit longer. The legendary groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow on Gobbler's Knob Thursday morning to perform his annual Groundhog Day duties and saw his shadow — which means Phil, a national icon, predicted six more weeks of winter, marking his 137th prediction.
Thousands of people from around the nation and other countries gathered at Gobbler's Knob as members of Punxsutawney Phil's "inner circle" summoned the giant rodent from his slumber at 6 a.m. sharp. As Phil meandered out of his steep to crisp winter air, he saw his shadow, which according to legend means an extended winter. According to folklore, spring would come early if he didn't see it and there would be six more weeks of winter if he did see it.
BREAKING: More #PASnowDays are on their way. Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow – predicting an extended winter. ❄️ #GroundhogDay #GHD2023 pic.twitter.com/TUGfA4ZBx6— visitPA (@visitPA) February 2, 2023
While Groundhog Day is a national tradition, Phil's prediction should be taken with a grain of salt. According to NOAA, Phil has predicted an early spring only 20 times and there is no record for 10 years. In the last 10 years, Phil was right 40% of the time. The last year Phil's prediction was right was in 2020, when he predicted an early spring. The 2021 forecast, held virtually due to the pandemic, also called for six more weeks of winter. In 2022, as the event moved back to an in-person celebration, Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. However, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club insists Phil has never been wrong.
The annual event has its origin in a German legend about a furry rodent. According to the legend, if a furry rodent casts a shadow on February 2, winter continues. If not, spring comes early. Groundhog Day began as a Pennsylvania German custom in the 18th and 19th centuries. Drawing from European weather lore that used the appearance of hibernators as a sign it was time to prepare for spring, these settlers found groundhogs abundant in the state, giving birth to Punxsutawney Phil, officially known as, "Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather-Prophet Extraordinary," as proclaimed by the "Punxsutawney Groundhog Club" in 1887. That same year, the club declared Punxsutawney to be the weather capital of the world, according to Almanac.com.
While Phil is the most recognizable and arguably the most famous groundhog to play weather forecaster, he is not the only one. There are two other nearby high-profile "imposters," as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club call them, including Staten Island Chuck at the Staten Island Zoo and Connecticut's official state groundhog, Chuckles, from the Lutz Children's Museum in Manchester. New Jersey's weather-predicting groundhog, Milltown Mel, died in late January 2022 just days before he was set to make his annual Groundhog Day appearance.