, °F

Personalized Forecasts

Featured Forecast

My Favorite Forecasts

    My Recent Locations

    Will Phil see his shadow on Groundhog Day?

    February 2, 2016; 6:44 AM ET
    Share |

    Is there a method to Punxsutawney Phil's madness in predicting how long winter will last on Groundhog Day?

    Since the tradition of Groundhog Day began in Punxsutawney in 1886, Phil has seen his shadow, on record, 102 times. There were 18 times that he did not see his shadow, and nine years during the late 1800s that there is no record of Phil's forecast.

    Infographic: All there is to know about Phil

    Though Phil's method may seem flawed -- anticipating that the sight of his shadow determines a longer winter, while no shadow calls for an early spring -- he has a tendency to get it right. Because the year's coldest quarter, also known as meteorological winter, runs from Dec. 5 to March 5, Phil's accuracy in predicting a longer winter is about 80 percent.

    Phil's logic comes from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox observances of Candlemas Day, tracing back almost 1,000 years.

    Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha, left, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    "An early association between the weather forecast and the religious observance is found in a Scottish couplet: 'If Candlemas is fair and clear / There'll be two winters in the year,'" AccuWeather Chief Forecaster Elliot Abrams said.

    "If the weather is 'fair,' the groundhog sees its shadow, and this is supposed to mean six more weeks of winter," Abrams said. "This is somewhat like saying that despite the sunshine on Groundhog Day, more winter is due." In any case, on this Groundhog Day, the Northeast and Northwest can plan on seeing six more weeks of winter.

    Phil will emerge to make his next prognostication around 7:25 a.m. EST on Feb. 2, 2017.

    Report a Typo


    Comments left here should adhere to the AccuWeather.com Community Guidelines. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

    More Weather News

    • Mild air to surge across the UK this week

      October 24, 2016; 8:15 PM ET

      Cool air that has been in place across the United Kingdom over the past week will be replaced with milder air by the middle of the week.

    Daily U.S. Extremes

    past 24 hours

      Extreme Location
    High N/A
    Low N/A
    Precip N/A

    Weather Whys®

    This Day In Weather History

    Bar Harbor, ME (1947)
    Wind-driven forest fires destroyed homes and medical research institute. 17 died; $30 million damage.

    Northeast (1969)
    Early season chill... Albany, NY 16 degrees Philadelphia, PA 25 degrees Baltimore, MD (Aprt) 25 degrees Washington, DC 29 degrees

    Colorado (1975)
    (Oct. 24-25) 33" snow in 2 days at Mesa Lake Reservoir.

    Rough Weather