Groundhog Day 2012: Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Six More Weeks of Winter

Pennsylvania's iconic groundhog has "seen" his shadow, meaning we're in for a long winter.

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Jason Cohn / Reuters

Groundhog handler Ron Ploucha smiles as he holds Phil after he made his prediction on Feb. 2, 2012.

The world’s most famous groundhog emerged from his burrow and allegedly saw his shadow this morning, indicating that we’re in for six more weeks of winter.

The prescient critter weighs in on the fate of the nation’s weather each year on Feb. 2 at Gobbler’s Knob, a hill outside of Punxsutawney, Pa., about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. The tradition is largely ceremonial (naturally, since groundhogs can’t actually predict the weather), and it draws thousands of people each year. Phil’s “prediction” is established in advance by the “Inner Circle,” otherwise known as the people who wear top hats and tuxedos and essentially serve as Phil’s security detail.

PHOTOS: Thousands Watch Punxsutawney Phil See His Shadow

The ritual comes from an old German superstition that says if an animal who’s been hibernating does not cast a shadow on Feb. 2, which is the Christian holiday of Candlemas, then spring will arrive early. Among the predicted 15,000 to 18,000 spectators at this year’s ceremony was Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.

Since the Groundhog Day tradition began in the 1880s, Phil has predicted a long winter about 100 times, eliciting disapproving groans each time. But given that recent temperatures in several parts of the country have been hovering around 50 degrees Fahrenheit lately, NewsFeed doesn’t think six more weeks of winter sounds half bad.

MORE: Q&A with Groundhog Handler Doug Schwartz