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Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog predicts an early spring

The annual event has its origins in a German legend.

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Groundhog Club co-handler Al Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil (Barry Reeger/AP)

Groundhog Club co-handler Al Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil (Barry Reeger/AP)

Groundhog Club co-handler Al Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil (Barry Reeger/AP)

The most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania has declared: “Spring will be early, it’s a certainty.”

At sunrise on Groundhog Day, members of Punxsutawney Phil’s top hat-wearing inner circle revealed the furry oracle’s prediction – his 134th “prognostication,” according to the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.

Woken by the crowd’s chants of “Phil!” the groundhog was hoisted in the air for the assembly to see before making his decision.

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Groundhog Club co-handler Al Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil (Barry Reeger/AP)

Groundhog Club co-handler Al Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil (Barry Reeger/AP)

AP/PA Images

Groundhog Club co-handler Al Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil (Barry Reeger/AP)

He then grasped the glove of a handler as a member of his inner circle announced that spring would come early this year.

The annual event has its origins in a German legend that says if a furry rodent casts a shadow on February 2, winter continues. If not, spring comes early.

In reality, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney.

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The groundhog was woken by the chanting of the crowd (Barry Reeger/AP)

The groundhog was woken by the chanting of the crowd (Barry Reeger/AP)

AP/PA Images

The groundhog was woken by the chanting of the crowd (Barry Reeger/AP)

Over the past five years, from 2015 to 2019, Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter three times and an early spring twice.

According to records dating back to 1887, the groundhog has predicted more winter more than 100 times, making this year’s forecast a rare one overall.

PA Media