When Groundhog Day rolls around every February, there is one star that millions look toward as they roll out of bed in the morning. Punxsutawney Phil has been measuring whether we’ll be having an early Spring or 6 more weeks of winter for years. How accurate is this famous groundhog? You might just be surprised.
Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the weather in the tradition of Gobbler’s Knob since 1887.
Punxsutawney Phil Statistics
Whether or not you actually believe in the myth of a groundhog who drinks a secret recipe of groundhog punch to live for over a century and speaks Groundhogese to the President of the Groundhog Club, the fact remains that Punxsutawney Phil has been around in some way, shape, or form for over a century. His statistics about predicting the weather might just surprise you.
- 87% of the time, the groundhog predicts a longer winter. Over the course of 117 years, Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow over 100 times. This means that for over a century, his prediction has been to have 6 more weeks of winter.
- The typical lifespan of a groundhog is about 8 years at maximum, which means at 117, Phil has greatly exceeded expectations.
- Punxsutawney Phil has only been accurate about 39% of the time over the course of history.
- Although there are now multiple groundhog predictors of the weather that will often conflict with Punxsutawney Phil, legend says that every other groundhog is simply an imposter.
- Maybe part of the issue is that groundhogs are one of the few animals that are actual hibernators, so waking up early before Spring arrives could prevent him from being truly accurate.
It is important not to take the legends of Punxsutawney Phil to seriously. This groundhog, who is believed to have been named after King Philip, has some faithful followers, but it is about having good fun rather than trying to figure out when to plant crops. With a 13% chance of having an early Spring and less than a 40% accuracy rating, who would want to base a planting schedule off of these odds anyway? Fact is that humans with computers that can model climates have a difficult time with this prediction. Now imagine how hard it is for a groundhog who can only speak to one human on the entire planet? That’s why having fun with Groundhog Day has such great appeal. It’s a way to get ready for the season without having to take it too seriously.
What Should You Know About Punxsutawney Phil?
- The earliest references to Groundhog Day in American culture comes from an 1841 diary speaking of Candlemas Day and having a groundhog peeping up out of the ground.
- The name Punxsutawney comes from a Native word from the region that directly translates to “Town of the Sandflies.”
- Many Native American tribes, according to legends, considered groundhogs to be their ancestral grandfathers.
- The first year that Punxsutawney Phil predicted that there would be an early Spring was in 1890. The next documented instance of an early Spring was 1902.
- Between 1951-1969, Punxsutawney Phil always saw his shadow.
- His handlers, the “Inner Circle,” all have comprehensive biographies online that include what their weather philosophies happen to be.
- In 2001, Punxsutawney Phil had his weather prediction shown on the JumbTron in Time Square and also had the sitting governor visit Gobbler’s Knob for the first time.
- Punxsutawney Phil weighs 20 pounds and is 22 inches long, which means he is bigger and heavier than your average groundhog.
So let’s just be honest here. The only real reason why Punxsutawney Phil has become so popular is because of the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. The proof isn’t in the movie take, but in the amount of visitors that came to Gobbler’s Knob the next year. The average attendance was generally a couple thousand every year. The year after the movie was released, over 35,000 people came to Gobbler’s Knob! There’s no doubt, however, that Punxsutawney Phil has used his fame to great success. He’s been able to start traveling the world, be on television talk shows, and he’s even been broadcast in Times Square live, which not every celebrity can say has happened to them. Not bad for a groundhog who is over 100 years old and needs special punch in order to stay alive.
Does Punxsutawney Phil Have Political Leanings?
- In 1981, when coming out to check on the weather to make a prediction, Punxsutawney Phil wore a yellow ribbon to honor the American hostages in Iran.
- In 1986, Punxsutawney Phil traveled to meet personally with Ronald Reagan, along with three members of the Inner Circle.
- Punxsutawney Phil had a conversation on live TV with Oprah Winfrey in 1995.
- The movie Groundhog Day took in over $100 million and was the #1 movie for two weeks after it was released.
- If you hear Punxsutawney Phil whistling in Spring, don’t worry – it’s just his mating call.
There are a lot of furry imposters because let’s face it – Punxsutawney Phil is a pretty popular groundhog. He’s got a huge following and that translates to an economic impact to the community and the region. When people travel out to Gobbler’s Knob just to see Phil, it is money in the bank for local businesses and who doesn’t want to have something like that when times are a bit tough? Although weather forecasters are generally treated with some skepticism, even when it comes to predicting weather on a daily basis, that skepticism isn’t translated over to Punxsutawney Phil. People really do believe that an early Spring or more Winter is on their way based on the traditions of Candlemas Day. Whether it is true or not, Phil’s predictions are important to millions of people and that’s ultimately what matters.