Punxsutawney Phil sits on the shoulder of Official Groundhog Handler John Griffith in Punxsutawney
Punxsutawney Phil sits on the shoulder of Official Groundhog Handler John Griffith in Punxsutawney Reuters

Each year on February 2, the small town of Punxsutawney, PA, receives a flood of attention from concerned citizens around the country because of a weather-predicting groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil.

Punxsutawney Phil is said to be the one special groundhog in the world who can predict whether winter will continue for six more weeks (if he sees his shadow and returns to his hole) or end early (if he does not see his shadow).

On February, 2 2011, the groundhog did not see his shadow, thereby predicting an early spring.

But who is this groundhog and how did this fascinating tradition start?

To answer the questions, the official website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club seems to be the most authoritative source.

Below is the information the website listed about Punxsutawney Phil:

1. Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just imposters.

2. There has been only one Punxsutawney Phil. Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking “groundhog punch” (a secret recipe). One sip, which is administered every summer at the Groundhog Picnic, gives him seven more years of life.

3. On February 2nd, Phil comes out of his burrow on Gobbler’s Knob, in front of thousands of faithful followers from all over the world, to predict the weather for the rest of the winter.

4. According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

5. No, Punxsutawney Phil’s forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle. After Phil emerges from his burrow on February 2nd, he speaks to the Groundhog Club President in Groundhogese. His proclamation is then translated for the world.

6. The celebration of Groundhog Day began with the Germans, Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states “For as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May…”. The settlers found that groundhogs were plentiful and were the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day.

7. Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800’s. The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob made on February 2nd, 1887. In 2008 it will be the 122nd prediction.

8. So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br’er Groundhog.

Moreover, the website said Phil’s predictions are accurate “100% of the time, of course!”

Of the 125 officially documented prognostications, not all occurred without incident.

In 1937, Punxsutawney Phil had an “unfortunate meeting with a skunk.”

In 1942, “war clouds” blacked out parts of his shadow.

In 1943, he didn’t make an appearance and America had to rely on Quarryville's prediction.

The following is a breakdown of Punxsutawney Phil’s past 125 predictions:

Saw shadow : 99

No shadow : 16

No record : 10