Today, as he does every year on Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow and ascended to Gobbler's Knob in Punxsatawney, Pa., to let the world know whether to expect a long winter or a soon-arriving spring.
So, what did Phil determine about this year's weather, in front of a cheering crowd of more than 18,000?
Six more weeks of winter it must be! The cheers turned into boos as the announcement came: Phil had seen his shadow.
The legendary groundhog has been making his predictions since 1887, but the custom can be traced back to early Christians in Europe. Phil works with a tight-knit group of advisers known as the Inner Circle, and with a little help from them and a magical punch known as Groundhog Elixir that he drinks every year, he's had a notable life.
"Phil's prediction is predicated on what Phil tells our president," Inner Circle vice president Mike Johnston said Thursday. "Using a chirp and a click and a wink of an eye," Phil communicates with the Inner Circle's president, who passes the message along. And, Johnston said, Phil has never been wrong.
Phil even keeps up with the times. In 2010, he sent out his prognostication via text message, and last year, people earned Groundhog Day badges on Foursquare. Overwhelmingly, Phil sees a shadow, but according to outside reports, his accuracy is fairly low at 39%.
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