Punxatawney Phil, the world’s most famous weatherman, saw his shadow Thursday, which, according to legend, means six more weeks of wintry weather.
The prognosticating groundhog came out around7:20a.m. in Punxatawney, Pa., where it was cloudy with light snow showers early in the morning — conditions that should continue if Phil is correct.
As legend goes, if Phil emerges from his burrow and sees his shadow, it’s an omen of six more weeks of coldweather, and retreats to his hole. If the day is cloudy — hence, no shadow — Phil predicts spring and stays above ground.
For those anticipating a winter wonderland, don’t get too excited yet. Phil’s accuracy hovers only around 39 percent, according to StormFax. Last year, Phil saw no shadow despite clear skies; in the two years prior, the marmot cast a shadow, portending more winter.
The organizer, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, touted the 2016 event as “Phil’s 130th prognostication,” although it is not the same groundhog every year but one picked to represent the character.
Club spokeswoman Katie Donald said 1886 was the first year that the club trekked to Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney and the groundhog delivered a weather forecast. Media coverage of the event started the following year, she said.
“We go by the first trek, 1886,” Donald said.
The event’s website, Groundhog.org, notes that “groundhogs are one of the few animals that really hibernate. Hibernation is not just a deep sleep. It is actually a deep coma.”
While he is still the most famous of the weather-forecasting groundhogs, Phil has had to compete with a host of imitators in recent years. New York City, for example, has a groundhog of its own that has generated more than its share of controversy.
The 2009 groundhog bit the hand of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the Feb. 2 ceremony.
Five years after that, the groundhog was the injured party, when a groundhog named Charlotte fell to the ground after she wriggled out of the grasp of Mayor Bill de Blasio. The animal died of internal injuries a week later.
New York’s groundhog, Staten Island Chuck, has disagreed with Phil this morning; he did not see his shadow, portending an early spring.
Connecticut’s groundhog, Chuckles VIII, sided with Chuck in the case of winter versus spring.
Additional reporting by Reuters