This is only the 18th time since 1887 that Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring.

Cailey Rizzo
Updated February 02, 2019

On Saturday morning in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a groundhog named Phil emerged from his hole and did not see his shadow, predicting an early spring.

This was just the 18th time that Punxsutawney Phil emerged at Gobbler’s Knob in the Pennsylvania Wilds and predicted an early spring, and with the recent polar vortex, his timing couldn't have been better.

On this holiday, clear skies traditionally meant a longer winter. Romans invading north brought the tradition to Germany, who decided that if the sun appeared, a hedgehog would see its shadow and, in turn, there would be six more weeks of winter. When German immigrants moved to Pennsylvania, they brought the tradition with them, replacing a groundhog for the hedgehog.

Since the start of the tradition, the groundhog has been cared for by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Phil has been predicting the arrival of spring since 1887 — but his accuracy leaves something to be desired. According to data from Stormfax Almanac, the groundhog is only right about 39 percent of the time.

Is the groundhog accurate?

Since the beginning, Phil has predicted more winter 103 times and now 18 early starts to spring. (There are nine years without any records and the Punxsutawney Area Chamber of Commerce has no idea what happened to Phil during that time.)

However, even when Phil’s predictions are accurate, they may not be accurate for the entire country. In 2015, the Washington Post put together a graphic depicting how the groundhog’s prediction played out for different districts around the country. While Phil’s predictions may be more correct for regions around the Great Lakes, the southern part of the country — specifically those in Florida — can largely ignore what the groundhog sees.

Ever since the movie “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray, was released in 1993, attendance at the annual event has skyrocketed. More than 20,000 people descend upon the small town every year to watch Phil make his prediction.

Lesser known is Staten Island Chuck who emerges from the Staten Island Zoo every year. According to the zoo, Chuck has an 80 percent accuracy rate. He is coming off a seven-year streak of correct predictions.

Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is predicted to experience a high of 53 degrees on Monday, according to Weather.com, with rain later in the week.

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