HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Thousands gathered Monday morning for an extended weather forecast made by none other than Punxsutawney Phil. The groundhog saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter.
The crowds assembled at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for the annual Groundhog Day prediction. The tradition began in 1887 and is always observed on February 2 because it is the midway point between the start of winter and the start of spring.
Since the tradition's inception, the groundhog has seen his shadow 102 times and failed to see it 17 times. There are nine years that are unaccounted for.
As far as Phil's track record, it seems that you have a better shot at forecast accuracy by flipping a coin. When compared to actual weather outcomes, the groundhog's prediction has only been validated about 36 percent of the time. But for folks up north enduring the brutal cold, a little mid-winter excitement is well deserved.
Punxsutawney Phil has become a household name in America but until 1952, the groundhog went by another name. Punxsutawney Pete. A Pittsburgh journalist made the error and the new name stuck.
Pine Belt residents seemed to be disappointed by the prediction of six more weeks of winter, but a few folks were pleased that the cooler temperatures would be sticking around. The majority didn't put too much faith in the rodent's ability to predict the weather, but he'll be pleased to know that he does have some loyal fans in South Mississippi.