The nation’s most famous groundhog delivered his annual verdict Friday morning: Punxsutawney Phil, seeing no shadow, predicted an early start to the spring season in 2024.
The illustrious groundhog made his forecast in the early hours of the morning from his home in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where, afterward, jubilant Groundhog Club members with white beards and top hats hoisted him in the air in triumph.
Punxsutawney Phil doesn't see shadow, predicts early spring pic.twitter.com/uPuvA7PnJR
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) February 2, 2024
The Groundhog Day ceremony has been held each Feb. 2 since 1877 and is traditionally attended by thousands of spectators. Tom Dunkel, the president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, estimated that between 35,000 and 40,000 people attended Friday’s festivities.
An early spring verdict is much rarer than a long winter—in the 147 years since 1877, Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter a total of 107 times, including most recently in 2023. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gives the groundhog a 36 percent accuracy rate over the past ten 10, with a total accuracy rate of 39 percent since 1877.
“Predicting the arrival of springtime for an entire country—especially one with varied regional climates like the United States—isn’t easy!” NOAA admits.
As climate change makes weather patterns more unpredictable, Punxsutawney Phil’s job is likely to get harder. But for now, the focus is on the groundhog’s rare spring verdict—a welcome announcement amid a winter of freezing storms and arctic temperatures across the Northeast.