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Punxsutawney Phil Says 'Early Spring.' Here's What Actual Weather Forecasters Say.

Punxsutawney Phil is greeted by loud cheers on Feb. 2, 2019.
Punxsutawney Phil is greeted by loud cheers on Feb. 2, 2019.
(Image: © Punxsutawney Groundhog Club)

Punxsutawney Phil, the seemingly immortal and consistently cute groundhog and not-so-accurate weather prognosticator, has emerged from his burrow on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, this morning (Feb. 2). And according to the men in the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, he did not see his shadow.

No shadow indicates that the club thinks the U.S. is in for an early spring. Not so fast, according to meteorologists who are predicting a long winter (though, according to Accuweather forecasters, not as long as 2018).

Don't tell that to Phil's handlers, or the cheering crowds this morning who welcomed the furry, well-fed groundhog — also called a woodchuck, marmot and whistle-pig — with flashing cameras and loud cheering in front of Gobbler's Knob. [Here's What Groundhogs Will Do If Winter Goes Long]

This is Phil's 133rd so-called weather forecast. And while your average groundhog (Marmota monax) in captivity lives about 10 years, the marmot's caregivers maintain there has been only one furry forecaster.

Another claim of Phil's handlers: that the well-pampered (he lives next to the children's library the other 364 days of the year) rodent is spot-on with his forecasts every year.

"He sees his shadow about 80 percent of the time and the other 20 percent he doesn't," Deeley told Live Science previously. "He's pretty darn accurate."

The various incarnations of Punxsutawney Phil have seen their shadow 103 times (more winter) and reported no shadow, or early springs, 19 times (including this year). And in 1942, apparently, Phil saw a partial shadow, which was counted as "no shadow," according to Stormfax Almanac. There is no record for nine years. Overall, Phil has swung it out of the park about 39 percent of the time, according to Stormfax Almanac.

Last year, Phil reported seeing his shadow, suggesting six more weeks of winter. Indeed, winter's grip held tight into April, Accuweather reported.

This year, Accuweather forecasters say while the eastern half of the U.S. may get a reprieve from the cold during the first part of February, that won't last. "The pattern will lock again for the second half of February with more cold and stormy weather for the eastern half of the nation," said Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather's expert long-range forecaster.

The Midwest, as well, will experience frigid air from Canada for the remainder of winter, according to Accuweather, which will release their official U.S. spring forecast on Wednesday (Feb. 6).

As for the weather-forecasting powers of woodchucks, those seem to date back to medieval Europe and were brought to the United States by German immigrants in the 1880s, Live Science previously reported.

Original article on Live Science.