Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, predicts early spring

 

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog on Sunday declared: “Spring will be early, it's a certainty.”

At sunrise on Groundhog Day, members of Punxsutawney Phil's top hat-wearing inner circle revealed the cuddly oracle's prediction — his 134th, according to the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.

Awoken by the crowd's chants of “Phil!” the groundhog was hoisted in the air for the assembly to hail before making his decision. He then grasped the glove of a handler as a member of his inner circle announced that spring would come early this year.

The annual event has its origin in a German legend that says if a furry rodent casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter continues. If not, spring comes early.

In reality, Phil's prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney. That's about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northeast of Pittsburgh.

Over the past five years — from 2015 through 2019 — Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter thrice and an early spring twice. According to records dating back to 1887, the Pennsylvanian prognosticator has predicted more winter more than 100 times, making this year's forecast a rare one overall.

Related: Punxsutawney Phil through the years

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Punxsutawney Phil through the years
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Punxsutawney Phil through the years
(Original Caption) Pittsburgh, Pa.: The big day for groundhogs is February 2nd and the weather prediction for western Pennsylvania for that day is cold with a possibility of snow or rain. The star of the day is Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog who lives at Goobler's Knob, but who won't make his appearance until 2/2 to forecast how long winter will last. However, Pittsburgh won't make his appearance until 2/2 to forecast how long winter will last. However, Pittsburgh Greta took a peek outside her zoo cage and beat a hasty retreat 2/1, no sun just cold winds. It looks like Punxsutawney Phil already has his weather prediction, more winter.
384962 01: Groundhog handler William Deeley holds up Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog, January 30, 2001 at a Manhattan, New York hotel. Punxsutawney Phil was in town to make media appearances in preparation of Groundhog Day on February 2, 2001. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Newsmakers)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, UNITED STATES: Members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle watch as William Deeley (L) raises the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil after Phil emerged from his burrow at daybreak 02 February, 2001 during the Groundhog Day celebration at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Phil saw his shadow, forecasting six more weeks of winter. AFP PHOTO/David MAXWELL (Photo credit should read DAVID MAXWELL/AFP/Getty Images)
400473 10: Members of Punxsutawneys 'Inner Circle' tap on Punxsutawney Phils door as they entice him out February 2, 2002 during the annual Groundhog day event in Punxsutawney, Pa. Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter in front of a estimated crowd of over 40,000. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 1: A groundhog peaks out from his man-made den at the Groundhog Zoo in Barley Park on the eve of Groundhog Day on February 1, 2004 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. As the custom goes, if Punxsutawney Phil (a large burrowing rodent) emerges from hibernation to see his own shadow, he will take this as a sign of six more weeks of winter, and return to his burrow. (Photo by Archie Carpenter/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Bill Deeley presents weather prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil to the crowd at Gobbler's Knob during the annual Groundhog day event February 2, 2003 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Phil, having seen his shadow, predicted six more weeks of winter. (Photo by Archie Carpenter/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, UNITED STATES: (FILES) This 02 February, 2001 file photo shows Punxsutawney Phil, held by his handler, William Deeley during the Groundhog Day celebration at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Punxsutawney Phil travelled to Washington, DC 07 December, 2004 to attend a press conference with US Representative John Peterson, R-PA to defend the $100,000 USD Grant for the Punxsutawney Weather Museum. Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Peterson and the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil as the December Co-Porkers of the Month for jointly defending the grant for the weather center. Punxsuntany Phil is usually shown to the public during a nationally-televised ceremony in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, every 02 February. Old German legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow on that day, cold weather will last another six weeks. If, on the other hand, he does not, early spring is on the way. AFP PHOTO/FILES/DAVID MAXWELL (Photo credit should read DAVID MAXWELL/AFP/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Official groundhog handler Bill Deeley holds Punxsutawney Phil as he talks to the local media February 2, 2005 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Phil predicted six more weeks of winter in front of an estimated crowd of over 18000. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Groundhog handler Ben Hughes looks at Punxsutawney Phil, while co-handler John Griffiths holds him after he saw his shadow predicting 6 more weeks of winter during festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on Feb 2, 2008. Groundhog Day is a popular traditon in the United States and Canada. This year a crowd of 40,000 spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If the groundhog sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of 6 more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. If he doesn't see his shadow, it is a sign of an early spring and he stays above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Groundhog handler Ben Hughes watches Punxsutawney Phil after he did not see his shadow predicting an early spring during the 125th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2011 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 15,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Groundhog handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil after he saw his shadow predicting 6 more weeks of winter during 126th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2012 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 15,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Groundhog handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 02: Punxsutawney Phil climbs on the shoulder of groundhog co-handler John Griffiths after Phil didn't see his shadow and predicting an early spring during the 127th Groundhog Day Celebration at Gobbler's Knob on February 2, 2013 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The Punxsutawney 'Inner Circle' claimed that there were about 35,000 people gathered at the event to watch Phil's annual forecast. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Punxsutawney Phil relaxes in his cage after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Groundhog co-handler John Griffiths holds up groundhog Punxsutawney Phil after Phil's annual weather prediction on Gobbler's Knob on the 130th Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania February 2, 2016. Punxsutawney Phil, a famed U.S. groundhog with an even more famous shadow, emerged from his burrow on Tuesday and predicted an early spring. REUTERS/Alan Freed TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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