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Will we see 6 more weeks of winter or an early spring?

If the groundhog crawls from his burrow on Feb. 2 and sees his shadow, he will retreat back and we will have to endure winter for six more weeks.
Will we see 6 more weeks of winter or an early spring?
Posted at 2:05 PM, Feb 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-01 15:06:22-05

There's no science whatsoever behind it. But we're deep into winter so we look to furry little guys like groundhogs for some hope that spring will soon be here.

"Like Santa Claus, you know, let's have some kind of fun with a traditional icon and, you know, just pretend that somehow it's going to tell us what the weather's about," said William W. Donner, anthropology professor at Kutztown University.

Tradition has it if the groundhog crawls from his burrow on Feb. 2 and sees his shadow, he will retreat back and we will have to endure six more weeks of winter. 

If he doesn't see his shadow, spring will come early. 

"For farming communities before you had all the weather technology we have today, that would have been very important," explained Donner.

While its origins are in Europe, Groundhog Day has been celebrated in the United States at least since the mid-1800s, starting with German immigrants to Pennsylvania.

Today, thousands of people gather in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, for the annual event.

"That's how Punxsutawney Phil got so popular nationally. And, you know, the movie, things like that," Donner said.

That movie is "Groundhog Day" starring Bill Murray as a TV weatherman who covers the Punxsutawney reveal but finds himself trapped in a time loop and living the day over and over again. The 1993 comedy was actually filmed in Woodstock, Illinois.

Every year, the Chicago suburb holds a Groundhog Day festival, describing it as "a great way to shake off the gloom of winter if just for a few days." 

It includes multiple showings of the "Groundhog Day" movie and on Friday morning, the main event on the town's main square: Woodstock Willie's winter prognostication.

Besides Punxsutawney Phil, there are dozens of other groundhogs across America like Woodstock Willie who also reveal their own winter forecasts.

As far as the accuracy of the Punxsutawney Phil's prognosis, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last year checked it out and since 2012, Phil was right about 40% of the time.

SEE MORE: Are Groundhog Day results accurate? Here's what Phil's record says


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