Punxsutawney Phil Doesn’t See His Shadow, Signaling Early Spring

Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow this morning in central Pennsylvania and didn’t see his shadow, which according to legend signals an early spring for the U.S.

Temperatures hovered at 8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 13 Celsius) under overcast skies as the groundhog’s handlers removed him from his stump-shaped shelter in Punxsutawney, a town about 80 miles (128 kilometers) northeast of Pittsburgh.

A crowd of thousands gathered to celebrate the 127th annual staging of the weather tradition, according to the Groundhog Club, which conducts the annual event atop Gobbler’s Knob. Organizers had predicted a crowd of about 20,000 because the event is on a weekend, the Associated Press reported.

Central Pennsylvania’s earliest European settlers were Germans who said that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2, the Christian holiday of Candlemas, unpleasant weather was on its way, according to the club web site.

Punxsutawney Phil and his predecessors have seen their shadows 100 times since 1887, according to the Groundhog Club. Only 17 times has the groundhog not seen his shadow, including two years ago, while another nine results weren’t recorded, the club said.

If he sees his shadow, there’ll be six more weeks of winter weather.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seems to agree with Phil.

It forecasts either average or above-average temperatures for the U.S. for February, March and April, with the exception of the Pacific Northwest and northern Plains.

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