Punxsutawney Phil emerges for his yearly spring predictions

Punxsutawney Phil emerges for his yearly spring predictions

Every February 2nd since 1887, thousands have gathered at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in order to catch a glimpse of the world-renowned weather forecaster announcing his yearly spring predictions.

This weather forecaster is quite untraditional. Punxsutawney Phil is small, brown and furry—he’s a groundhog.

Phil’s entrance to fame in 1887 is due to a city editor of Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper at that time, Clymer H. Freas. Freas claimed Phil America’s official forecasting groundhog and continued to embellish Phil’s story until it took off around the country.

The legend goes, if Phil emerges from his home and sees his shadow, America is in store for six more weeks of winter weather, but if he does not see his shadow, America should expect warmer weather and early spring.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, Phil’s holiday “originates from an ancient celebration of the midway point between winter solstice and spring equinox.”

Brynn Schumacher ’18 says she does not know much about Groundhog Day other than the basics.

“[Phil is probably] right only twenty percent of the time,” Schumacher guessed, referencing Phil’s accuracy.

According to the Stormfax Weather Almanac and the records kept since 1887, Phil has actually been correct 39 percent of the years he’s been in the climate-predicting business.

Willemijn Ten Cate ’17 moved to the United States from England in 2013, and says she is unaware of what the holiday entails.

“They don’t have that in England,” said Ten Cate smiling, “[but I’m guessing] you celebrate a ground hog?”

Groundhog.org claims that Phil is the same groundhog that his been predicting since 1887. Considering a groundhog’s average lifespan is only six years, “the one and only Phil” is regarded more as legend than a fact.

The majority of Americans have heard of Groundhog Day (and no, not just the 1993 movie starring Bill Murray), but knowing more than just the basics of the holiday is less common.

When asked about how many Phils he thinks there have been over the years, Ken Asada ’15 predicted, “probably around sixty.”

Groundhog day is a mostly American holiday, but some Canadians celebrate it in places such as in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

Phil is pretty much a national celebrity, and if people want an early spring, they better be nice to him.