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What is the name of the groundhog used for Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day is celebrated every 2 February, across the US but there “is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just impostors.”

The most famous groundhog of all

Groundhog Day is part of popular culture across North America with hibernating creatures awoken on 2 February to augur whether Spring is near or Winter will stay on for another six weeks. However, there “is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just impostors.”

That furry, four-legged forecaster hails from a small town in western Pennsylvania and already had a strong following before he appeared on the silver screen with Bill Murray in the 1993 movie ‘Groundhog Day’. His name is Punxsutawney Phil, and he has been divining the weather to come for nearly seven score years. His longevity is thanks to a sip each summer from the “elixir of life,” according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

On 2nd February, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania at Gobbler’s Knob, the groundhog Phil will emerge from his burrow to cast his prediction on whether spring is here or if there will be six more weeks of winter. This town’s particular tradition dates back to 1886, and will be streamed live for all those who could not make the trip to see the event in person.

As groundhogs cannot communicate their ideas directly, the interaction is mediated by the President of the Groundhog Club, a trusted member of Punxsutawney Phil’s ‘Inner Circle.’

The ‘Inner Circle’ is described as the “group of local dignitaries responsible for carrying on the tradition of Groundhog Day every year.” In addition to hosting, they also are “responsible for the feeding and care of Phil himself.”

Should Phil emerge from his burrow on 2 February and see his shadow, “he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.” However, if there are clouds in the sky that block a potential shadow, “he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

Read more on Groundhog Day: What is the history and origin of Groundhog Day?

How did the groundhog get his name?

Punxsutawney Phil is named after Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where the ceremony occurs and King Phillip. However, “prior to being called Phil, he was called Br’er Groundhog,” according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

How accurate are the Punxsutawney Phil’s readings?

Well, it depends on who you ask.

According to the Groundhog Club, Phil’s readings are one hundred percent accurate, but sometimes the President fails to interpret the correct result...human error is to blame not Phil.

For the past few years, the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration has released a report to evaluate Phil’s predictions. In the most recent from 2022, over the previous ten years, “Phil has gotten it right 40% of the time” when comparing “U.S. national temperatures with Phil’s forecasts.” Last year, he, or better said the president of the “Inner Circle” misunderstood what Phil said knocking the furry, four-legged oracle’s record yet again.

As Pennsylvania tends to experience fairly cold winters, Phil has tended to predict longer winters over the years. Since 1886, he has seen his shadow 107 times.

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