The Dirt on Groundhog Day


Chief Meteorologist Jennifer Rukavina

Every year warm season lovers anticipate the outcome of Groundhog Day, February 2nd. The furry little groundhog was said to make his first "official" prediction back in 1886, published in The Punxsutawney Spirit.  

The most famous groundhog and predictor is Punxsutawney Phil. He resides in Gobblers Knob, near Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and is proclaimed to be the only true weather forecasting groundhog. It is also said that he is 120 years old and has lived so long by taking a special elixir every summer that extends his life by another 7 years.

The one question everyone wants cleared up is exactly what does it mean if the groundhog sees his shadow or not. Basically, if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, the folklore says Spring will arrive early!

Each year, up to 30,000 people visit the small town of Gobblers Knob to watch the groundhog emerge from hibernation to forecast the harshness left of winter. Those who work closest to Phil say that he has been 100% correct since the beginning.

Here are some fun facts that can also be found at, the official website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club:

Phil's forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle. After Phil emerges from his burrow on February 2, he speaks to the Groundhog Club President in "Groundhogese" (a language only understood by the current president of the Inner Circle). His proclamation is then translated for the world.

So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br'er Groundhog.

The celebration of Groundhog Day began with Pennsylvania's earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states, "For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in may."

For more fun facts...check the website above.

In some regions of the United States, other groundhogs have become famous for forecasting the outcome of the rest of winter. Here is a list of the most notable:

General Beauregard Lee (near Atlanta, Georgia)

Staten Island Chuck (Staten Island Zoo, New York)

Wiarton Willie (Ontario)

Buckeye Chuck (Marion, Ohio)