Punxsutawney Phil usually sees his shadow, and other insights from 138 years of groundhog


Punxsutawney Phil emerged to greet a crowd of thousands on Friday, but he didn’t see his shadow — and according to more than 100 years of data, that’s a departure from the norm.

Phil has seen his shadow and predicted a delayed spring about 77 percent of the time, according to the York Daily Record. An early spring prediction was much less common: Friday was just the 21st time since records began in 1886 that Phil failed to see his shadow.

The data from the York, Pa., newspaper also includes 10 years in the late 1800s in which records were unavailable, and one year — 1943 — in which the groundhog failed to show up.

But are the groundhog’s predictions accurate? According to the National Weather Service, Phil isn’t too good at his job. The agency last year compared Phil’s forecasts with US temperature records over 10 years, and found him to be correct just 30 percent of the time.

Of course, the picture is complicated when attempting to predict the weather for a country as large as the United States. Last year, for example, Phil forecast an additional six weeks of winter, and while temperatures were above average in February, they dipped slightly below average in March, leading the weather service to declare Phil about half right.

Massachusetts’ own Ms. G claims a higher accuracy rate, according to mastategroundhog.com, though the Globe could not independently verify the assertion.

Ms. G has been making predictions in Massachusetts since 2008, but this year she didn’t venture outside due to a hair issue. A spokesperson for Mass Audubon told the Globe that Ms. G did not see her shadow, thus predicting an early spring.

Here’s a look at how the two groundhogs have predicted the weather since 2008. The pair have agreed on the arrival of spring eight times since then.


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her @cprignano.





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