Groundhog Day 2024: Forecast, Facts, and Folklore

Groundhog Day is celebrated every year on February 2. What does a groundhog have to do with weather? We explain.

Groundhog Day is celebrated every year on February 2, and in 2024, it falls on a Friday. It’s a day when townsfolk in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, gather in Gobbler’s Knob to watch as an unsuspecting furry marmot is plucked from his burrow to predict the weather for the rest of the winter. But anyone who bought a copy of the Farmers’ Almanac, or checked out our extended forecast, has known what’s in store for the rest of the winter since August!

It's Groundhog Day Again - Billy Murray Quote in Film Gif.

First, What Does The Farmers’ Almanac Say?

Whether or not you follow the groundhog, or simply enjoy the folklore (don’t worry, we don’t mind), we’re here to tell you: winter isn’t going anywhere any time soon—our long-range predictions say winter is here for the long haul.

See our February and March forecasts for your region here.

No matter what the weather, spring will officially arrive with the Vernal Equinox on March 19, 2024, at 11:06 p.m. EST, however, the warmer, spring-like weather may not come until a little later.

How Does The Almanac Do it?

The Farmers’ Almanac uses a mathematical and astronomical formula to make our long-range weather predictions, not folklore. We look at sunspot activity, tidal action of the Moon, positions of the planets, and many other factors to carefully craft a year’s worth of weather forecasts. Fans of the Almanac say our weather forecasts are accurate 80-85% of the time.

Review our previous winter forecast accuracy now.

Even though Phil is wrong on occasion, we still respect the groundhog and a “holiday” that’s stuck around for more than a century, and one in which we are reminded to put down our high-tech gadgets and consult with nature.

The Groundhog Day Shadow vs. No Shadow Folklore

People often get confused about what it means if the groundhog sees his shadow or not. Let’s clear it up. According to folklore:

  • If Phil does see his shadow (meaning the Sun is shining), winter will not end early, and we’ll have another 6 weeks left of it.
  • If Phil doesn’t see his shadow (cloudy) we’ll have an early spring.

How Accurate Are The Groundhog’s Predictions?

Members of Punxsutawney Phil’s “Inner Circle” claim his predictions are 100% accurate. Unfortunately, that claim isn’t 100% accurate. According to sources that track the marmot, that number is more like 39%. Since Punxsutawney Phil first began prognosticating the weather back in 1887, he has predicted an early end to winter 18 times. In 2011, the groundhog predicted an early spring only for the eastern half of the U.S. to get pounded with snow into mid-March!

The History of Groundhog Day

The date of the celebration coincides with the medieval feast of Candlemas, and its pre-Christian predecessor, Imbolc, a day also rich in folklore. An old Scottish prophecy foretells that sunny weather on Candlemas means a long winter. The tradition is recounted in this poem:

As the light grows longer
The cold grows stronger
If Candlemas be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight
If Candlemas be cloud and snow
Winter will be gone and not come again
A farmer should on Candlemas day
Have half his corn and half his hay
On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop
You can be sure of a good pea crop.

From Hedgehogs to Groundhogs

Ancient Europeans had long held that badgers and hedgehogs could foretell the weather, and came to combine this belief with the rituals surrounding Candlemas. After emigrating to Southeastern Pennsylvania, early German-American settlers substituted groundhogs, which were plentiful in their new homeland.

The First Celebration

Punxsutawney Phil is the focal point of the oldest and largest annual Groundhog Day celebration, held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to groundhog.org, 1886 marked the first time that Groundhog Day appeared in Punxsutawney newspaper, but 1887 was the first time the official trek to Gobbler’s Knob took place.

Members of Phil’s “Inner Circle” claim that he is now way over 100 years old, thanks to a magical life-extending serum they feed him each year—and that his predictions are 100 percent accurate.

Punxsutawney Virtual Event

Visit the official Punxsutawney Phil website for the live action at Gobbler’s Knob and see for yourself what he will predict.

Phil’s last forecast (2023) was 6 more weeks of winter!

Phil Is Not The Only Prognosticator! Other Groundhog Forecasters

Phil may be the most famous, but there are a number of other groundhogs that hold court at celebrations across North America (many of which also hold virtual events). They include:

Buckeye Chuck in Ohio

Dunkirk Dave in Dunkirk, New York

General Beauregard Lee in Jackson, Georgia

Holtsville Hal, Suffolk County, Long Island, N.Y. (See video below!)

Jimmy the Groundhog in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

Malverne Mel in Malverne, New York

Octoraro Orphie in Quarryville, Pennsylvania

Shubenacadie Sam in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, Canada

Sir Walter Wally in Raleigh, N.C.,

Staten Island Chuck in New York City

9 Facts About Groundhogs You May Not Have Known

  • Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are a type of marmot, large rodents related to squirrels.
  • Groundhogs have a large habitat, extending throughout most of North America, from Alaska to as far south as Alabama.
  • In the wild, groundhogs usually live two to three years but have been known to live up to six years. In captivity, they can live much longer. The original Wiarton Willie—one of Canada’s most famous prognosticating groundhogs—lived to be 22 years old.
  • Groundhogs are typically 16-26 inches long, and typically weigh 4 to 9 pounds, but they can weigh much more — Punxsutawney Phil weighs 20 lbs!
  • Groundhogs actually have two coats of fur: a thick, wooly, grey undercoat and a longer coat of silky brownish hairs. This helps to keep them warm throughout the year.
  • Groundhogs prefer to eat wild grasses, leaves, berries, and, as any gardener who’s ever had one around knows, food crops. They will also occasionally eat nuts, insects, grubs, snails, and other small animals.
  • The average groundhog can move approximately 700 pounds of dirt when digging its burrow. Burrows can be up to 46 feet long and up to 5 feet underground.
  • Groundhogs hibernate during the winter, usually between October and March or April, depending on the climate.
  • If in danger, a groundhog will produce a high-pitched alarm whistle to warn the rest of its family. This is how they got the nickname “whistle pig” in some regions. Other groundhog sounds include squeals, barks, and tooth grinding.

Test your knowledge of groundhogs with our Groundhog Day Quiz!

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Phyllis S

We have 2 in WV.. Frenchcreek Freddie at the WV Wildlife Center in Upshur County, and a nearby University, (Concord University), has Concord Charlie, which is very local for me, lol.


Illinois has Woodstock Willie and today he did not see his shadow.

Carl Brochu


General Beauregard Lee :

General Beauregard Lee’s predecessor was known as General Robert E. Lee and began prognosticating in 1981.[2] General Lee’s first nationally televised appearance was in 1988.[3] Beauregard Lee resided at Yellow River Game Ranch in Gwinnett County, Georgia for 27 years until the ranch suddenly closed in December 2017.[4] He was then relocated to Dauset Trails Nature Center in Jackson, Georgia, to carry on his weather-predicting tradition.[5]

General Beauregard Lee:In 2011, PolitiFact decreed General Lee to be more accurate than Punxsutawney Phil, boasting a 60% national accuracy for an early spring between the years of 2001 to 2010, compared to Phil’s 30%.[6] The groundhog-sized ante-bellum style mansion that General Lee lives in is known as Weathering Heights.[7]

Susan Higgins

Hi Countdown, we added links and removed the one groundhog who seems to have retreated to his forever burrow.

Christa Lemons

I have a friend who calls them Bumblers. They are interesting animals. Marmot. I like the word.

william mccray

French Creek Freddie in West Virginia.

Christa Lemons

Where is French Creek located? I’m in Morgan county WV

Amber Williams

French Creek is between Hacker Valley (Webster County) and Buckhannon, (Upshur County). It is where the WV Wildlife Center is. You can find info on the WV DNR website.

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