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Groundhog Club handler A.J. Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, while posing for a photo with Miss Pennsylvania Miranda Moore Alamy Stock Photo
Groundhog Day

Early spring predicted at Pennsylvania's Groundhog Day ceremony

The annual event was made famous by the 1993 film Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray.

AN EARLY SPRING has been predicted at the largest and best-known Groundhog Day celebration in the United States.

Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring this morning in Gobbler’s Knob, Pennsylvania.

groundhog-club-handler-a-j-dereume-holds-punxsutawney-phil-the-weather-prognosticating-groundhog-during-the-138th-celebration-of-groundhog-day-on-gobblers-knob-in-punxsutawney-pa-friday-feb-2 Groundhog Club handler A.J. Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil during the 138th celebration of Groundhog Day Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The annual event is held on 2 February and is a tongue-in-cheek ritual in which Phil’s handlers, members of a club with roots in the late 1800s, reveal whether the groundhog has seen his shadow.

The tradition dates back to the Pennsylvania Dutch belief that if a groundhog left its burrow and saw its shadow, it would scurry back inside and winter would go on for six more weeks.

Just after sunrise this morning, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club announced that Phil had not seen his shadow and according to legend, this means there will be an early spring.

pennsylvania-gov-josh-shapiro-watches-punxsutawney-phil-the-weather-prognosticating-groundhog-during-the-138th-celebration-of-groundhog-day-on-gobblers-knob-in-punxsutawney-pa-friday-feb-2-2 Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro meanwhile took to the stage before Phil to urge people around the world watching the festivities to come to Punxsutawney next year.

“Punxsutawney is the centre of the universe right now and I love that you’re all here,” Shapiro said.

Phil and his predecessors, also called Phil, have been forecasting since 1887 and over the past decade, Phil has an accuracy rate of about 30%, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This year more than 40,000 people camped out in a festival-like atmosphere to wait for sunrise and the groundhog’s emergence.

the-crowd-watches-the-festivities-while-waiting-for-punxsutawney-phil-the-weather-prognosticating-groundhog-to-come-out-and-make-his-prediction-during-the-138th-celebration-of-groundhog-day-on-gobbl The crowd watches the festivities while waiting for Punxsutawney Phil Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The ceremony has been made famous in large part thanks to the 1993 Bill Murray film Groundhog Day, which sees the rodent Punxsutawney Phil emerge from his burrow and choose one of two scrolls to decide the upcoming weather.

Outside of Groundhog Day, Phil lives in a customised space beside the Punxsutawney Memorial Library, with a window where library patrons can look at his burrow.

Back in 2009, library workers said Phil had managed to escape three times, climbing into the library ceiling and dropping into offices about 50 feet away.

Thankfully, he was not injured.

-With additional reporting from Press Association

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