Hang on to your warm hats and fuzzy winter coats because the results of Groundhog Day 2018 are in. According to legend, we’re in for six more weeks of winter because Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most celebrated groundhog, gazed at the ground and saw his shadow on Friday morning. This is in spite of the forecasts that predicted a cloudy, shadow-less morning. The Pennsylvania groundhog isn’t the only weather-predicting rodent in this peculiar American tradition, but he is the most famous.
And according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, his opinion is the only one that matters. Had the oversized rodent not spotted his shadow, it would have signaled spring is around the corner, according to old folklore. The groundhog crawled out of his hole to issue his prediction just before 7:25 a.m. as the sun rose at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Thousands of merry witnesses came out to witness the aging tradition, unbothered by the biting wind, blowing snow and bone-chilling temperatures in the teens.
Flipping a coin might be as accurate as Phil. Since 1988, the groundhog was “right” 14 times and “wrong” 16 times. This means that only 14 times did the national average temperature for the remainder of February and March actually match what would be expected based on what the groundhog predicted.
Since his first prediction in 1887, Phil has spotted his shadow 104 times, including this year, to forecast a longer winter, and only 19 occasions where he hasn’t, predicting an early spring. Since 1887, ten years are missing from the record, sometime in the late 19th century. The fuzzy rodent was wrong last year. Phil saw his shadow, predicting an extra six weeks of winter. However, both February and March ended up warmer than average across the nation. Supposedly, February 2017 was the second-warmest February on record. If this winter stands well into March, as Phil predicts, it will be remembered for the intensity and duration of cold weather.