Photo Credit : Screengrab from video by the tourism website of the state of Pennsylvania (via NPR)

It's February 2, the day when legendary groundhog Punxsutawney Phil and the relatively new Staten Island Chuck AKA Charles D. Hogg predict if Americans will have to suffer through an extended winter or enjoy an early spring. This year was no exception.

Early this morning, handlers wearing tuxedos and top hats coaxed Phil out of his temporary home on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, PA to hear what the animal had to say. Thousands of people watched with abated breath as the groundhog surveyed the surroundings for his shadow.

Phil then turned around and whispered his prediction to Bill Deeley, the President of the "Inner Circle," and the only person that understands Groundhogese. After listening to the groundhog carefully, Deeley declared:

The inner circle goes to great ends
To keep me abreast of latest trends
Down in my burrow I never get bored
Riding on my hover board
And I sure have fun flying my drone
But weather forecasting is my comfort zone
Is this current warm weather more than a trend?
Per chance this winter has come to an end?
There is no shadow to be cast,
An early Spring is my forecast!

In Staten Island, NY, archrival Chuck who has been forecasting the weather for just three decades emerged from his burrow at about 7:30 AM and looked for his shadow! Fortunately, he too did not see it and also declared an early spring!

Staten Island Chuck ( Photo Credit: Facebook)

So does this mean we should start pulling out our swimsuits? Depends on who you ask. Human meteorologists claim that Phil has a sketchy record and has been accurate just 40% of the time in the 129 years he has been predicting the weather. But Phil's fans at Punxsutawney refute that number. They claim that the legendary groundhog has never been wrong! Meanwhile, the less experienced Staten Island Chuck boasts an 80% accuracy rate - One that nobody is disputing.

As to how experts decide if it is an early spring or late winter? By recording the daily temperatures for two months following Groundhog Day. If there are more days above 40° F, it is considered an early spring. Conversely, if the majority of days fall below that threshold, it's a long winter!

Regardless of whether the animals are right, Groundhog Day is a fun tradition that was started by German settlers that migrated to Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th century. It was adopted across the USA in 1887, after the editor of Punxsutawney Spirit, began touting the town's groundhog as the official Groundhog Day meteorologist.

Phil at Gobber’s Knob (Phot Credit: via wikipedia)

Though there are now a number of copycat groundhogs that also make predictions, Punxsutawney Phil remains the most popular. That's because according to local folklore, Phil, is the same groundhog that made the original prediction in 1887. The 129-year-old has been kept alive by a special magic potion! The little critter is also famous internationally, thanks to his starring role in the 1993 movie, 'Groundhog Day'.

Groundhogs also called woodchucks, land beavers or whistle pigs are the largest members of the squirrel family. They grow between 17-26 inches in length and can weigh up to 4lbs. With the exception of Phil, the primarily herbivorous animals have a lifespan of between 6-8 years in the wild.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Resources :,,, photo credits: wikipedia.orgCC BY-SA 2.0, $2,,