Groundhog Day 2019: Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring

Local lore suggests that if Punxsutawney Phil doesn't see his shadow, an early spring can be expected.

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By Linda Givetash

Following a week of frigid temperatures that gripped the Midwest, all eyes were on Pennsylvania's famed groundhog on Saturday in hopes of signs of relief.

And Punxsutawney Phil delivered good news on Groundhog Day morning, failing to see his shadow and thus predicting an early spring is on its way, according to local lore.

The festivities have their origin in a German legend that says if a furry rodent casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter continues. If not, spring comes early.

Phil's annual prediction draws thousands of revelers to the town of Punxsutawney, about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, every year. Onlookers were bundled up Saturday to chant Phil's name so he would emerge from his hole in a tree stump.

Cheers erupted when the early spring prediction was announced, with one of Phil's handlers advising the crowd to invest in swimsuits.

Nearly the same series of events unfolded about 300 miles to the east, where Staten Island Chuck's handlers also revealed the same prediction.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio stopped attending Staten Island's Groundhog Day ceremony in 2015, a year after he accidentally dropped the furry critter that died a week later.

Linda Givetash

Linda Givetash is a reporter based in London. She previously worked for The Canadian Press in Vancouver and Nation Media in Uganda. 

Associated Press contributed.