February 21, 2019

Fast facts about Groundhog Day 2019

03 February 2019, 04:10 | Dale Webster

Will Winter End? Top Facts About Groundhog Day

Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths center holds Punxsutawney Phil the weather prognosticating groundhog during the 131st celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney

As the Midwest and East Coast try to recover from this week’s unsafe Arctic blast, Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog is gearing up to reveal whether an early spring is on the way or if winter will stick around.

Following a week of frigid temperatures that gripped the Midwest, all eyes were on Pennsylvania's famed groundhog on Saturday in hopes of signs of relief. This, his male handlers in top hats dramatically said, signals an early start to spring and an end to winter. It's a. sequel? To Groundhog Day?

As on every February 2, thousands of people gathered in the early morning at Gobbler's Knob, to see live the forecast of the famous groundhog, a tradition dating back to 1887. On Candlemas, the clergy would bless and give out candles to last congregants for the rest of winter.

It's celebrated across North America, but in Punxsutawney they have a much more specific tradition. Since hedgehogs aren't native to the United States, another hibernating animal was chosen in their stead: the groundhog.

Phil made his 133rd recorded appearance on Saturday.

Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800's.

Other places have begun using their own groundhog to celebrate the holiday, including General Beauregard Lee of Atlanta, Dunkirk Dave of Dunkirk, New York, and Jimmy of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.

Male groundhogs emerge early to look for a mate.

Historically, they also ate groundhog meat, but this practice has since died out.

"Phil! Phil!" But predicting the weather, that's my song; for 133 years, I've never been wrong.

Phil's skill is kind of like a coin flip - he's been accurate about 50 percent of the time, according to The Weather Channel.

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