Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil predicts the US weather in front of a crowd of thousands

Punxsutawney Phil makes his yearly weather prediction in front of a huge crowd Credit: AP

Thousands of people flocked to a western Pennsylvania town to mark Groundhog Day on Thursday to see what one meteorological mammal thinks the US weather will be.

The star of the show was Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog named after his home town.

Phil's “inner circle” summoned him from his tree stump, in popular park Gobbler’s Knob, at dawn to learn if he has seen his shadow.

According to the group of local dignitaries, the fluffy forecaster did see his shadow.

This means America will be plunged into another six weeks of winter, according to folklore. If he doesn’t see his shadow, spring comes early.

Phil the groundhog Credit: AP

What is Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day is a yearly event in North America and Canada held on February 2.

The tradition originated from Pennsylvania Dutch folklore, created by German speaking migrants who came to America from Europe.

They believed every year when groundhogs emerge from their winter burrow, if it can see its shadow, it scrambles back underground as it expects another six weeks of winter.

If it does not see its shadow then spring is on the way.

Groundhog Day also means a situation when annoying or tedious events appear to be recurring in exactly the same way over and over again.

Phil is summoned at dawn from his tree stump Credit: AP

Will Phil's predictions come true?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration compared Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast to the national weather over the last 10 years and found “on average, Phil has gotten it right 40% of the time.”

This year, Phil's prediction came during a week when a mess of ice, sleet and snow has lingered across much of the southern US, so he could be right about six more weeks of winter.

According to records dating back to 1887, Phil has forecasted winter more than 100 times. Ten years were lost because no records were kept, organisers said.

The 2021 and 2022 forecasts also set out for six more weeks of winter.

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