5 fun facts about Groundhog Day - The Morning Call

Phil is the real deal. The others are just impostors.

Well that's what people in Pennsylvania think of Punxsutawney Phil. He's the weather-forecasting celebrity groundhog that every year on Feb. 2 comes out of his burrow on Gobbler's Knob in the western Pennsylvania borough of Punxsutawney and either sees his shadow (six more weeks of winter) or doesn't (an early spring.)

While he doesn't use elaborate computer models or Doppler radar, Phil's a famous forecaster with his own special day, Groundhog Day.

Here are five fun facts about Phil and Groundhog Day:

1 Accurate? Not so much ... According to the National Climatic Data Center, Phil has been wrong 15 times since 1988.

2 Critter competition: Phil isn't the only animal weather "man." He faces other furry forecasters such as Buckeye Chuck of Ohio, General Beauregard Lee of Georgia, Staten Island Chuck and Wiarton Willie of Ottawa, Canada.

3 Phil is immortal: Phil has been making predictions for more than 131 years. Legend has it he gets his longevity from drinking the "elixir of life" (a secret recipe of course). Phil takes a sip every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically adds seven more years to his lifespan. (Groundhogs typically live six to eight years.) Outside of his supernatural sip, Phil is like other groundhogs and gets most of his liquids from dewy leaves. He also enjoys eating greens, fruits and vegetables.

4 His posse: Phil always has back-up from "the Groundhog Club's Inner Circle," a.k.a. the guys in the top hats. The club is made up of local dignitaries responsible for carrying on the Groundhog Day. Once Phil emerges from his burrow, he tells the president of the Inner Circle in "Groundhogese" his forecast, which is then translated for the proclamation.

PICTURES: Punxsutawney's Groundhog Day Celebration

5 "I Got You, Babe:" Groundhog Day, of course, has its own holiday film. The 1993 movie "Groundhog Day" is a classic. Bill Murray plays a TV weatherman forced to live the same day — Feb. 2 — over and over again in Punxsutawney until he gains some insight into his life. (He wakes up each day to the radio playing the Sonny and Cher song "I Got You Babe.") The movie didn't win any Academy Awards but it's still a favorite. You can watch it all day Thursday on cable channel AMC.

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Groundhog Day

When: Go to themorningcall.com for live streaming of Groundhog Day starting at 6 a.m. Thursday

What will happen? Punxsutawney Phil will come out of his burrow and tell us if we're in for an early spring or six more weeks of winter

Info: www.groundhog.org


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