Soon-to-be spring or a much longer winter? The groundhog says...

Baby, it's cold outside. And it's going to stay that way.

Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow early Sunday morning and saw his shadow, signaling that winter will be sticking around. Officially, a sight of Phil's shadow means an extra six weeks of winter.

The odds were in favor of a longer winter, since Phil has seen his shadow 100 times and has not seen it only 17 times since 1886, including last year. After he sees (or doesn't see) his shadow, he reports what he saw to the groundhog club's president, speaking Groundhogese, according to Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle

Jeff Swensen / Getty Images
Groundhog handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil just moments after the groundhog saw his shadow.

The town of Punxsutawney, which is about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800s. Predictions are made at Gobbler's Knob, where it has been done since 1887. The event annually attracts more than 15,000 people and brought as many as 30,000 in the wake of the 1993 release of the Bill Murray classic movie "Groundhog Day,'' according to the Inner Circle. 

Phil is a very special groundhog, and the Inner Circle says he gets his longevity from drinking a secret punch. He drinks it every year, at a summer picnic, and it is said that one sip gives him seven more years of life. 

While Punxsutawney Phil may be one of the most recognizable groundhogs, there are others of his kind. 

Staten Island Chuck lives at the Staten Island Zoo in New York, and also made his announcement Sunday morning. His prediction matched Phil's, meaning snow-weary New Yorkers may have to buckle down for more frigid temperatures. 

The state of Georgia also has their own groundhog, named General Beauregard Lee, and Ohio has Buckeye Chuck. Buckeye Chuck even has an official title — he was named the official state groundhog in 1979.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Matt Mills Mcknight

    Punxsutawney Phil, the other 364 days of the year

    See how the weather-predicting groundhog spends his time, along with the 'Inner Circle' of top-hatted helpers who handle his travel and well being

  • Punxsutawney Phil, the other 364 days of the year

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    Kids visit with Punxsutawney Phil in the halls of Punxsutawney High School during a youth wrestling match on Saturday, Jan. 26, in Punxsutawney, Pa. "They really see that Phil's not actually a puppet, or just something they saw on television," said Groundhog Club Inner Circle member Ron Ploucha. "I get to see the looks on their faces with eyes as big as 50-cent pieces, it's my favorite part about being Phil's handler."

    While Ploucha appreciates watching kids enjoy Phil, he sometimes gets a little apprehensive when Phil is around large groups of people. "I'm worried that somebody — even though I tell them not to — will come up and put their hands near Phil's face. Sometimes those fingers of theirs looks like carrots to him. It's never happened fortunately, but there can always be a first time, so I am very careful with having him out in the open around people."

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  • Punxsutawney Phil, the other 364 days of the year

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    Punxsutawney, Pa., is a town of approximately 6,300 people. A local hospital and schools serve as a backbone for community employment, according to the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce. In 2010, the unemployment rate was 6.6 percent. "Machining shops that work with heavy equipment and metals, as well as mining of coal and fracking of natural gas provide some higher paying jobs in the area, but are less plentiful," said Michele Neal, director of the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce.

    for NBC News / for NBC News
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    Groundhog Club Inner Circle member Ron Ploucha, right, with co-handler John Griffiths, transports Punxsutawney Phil from a "Meet Phil" event at Punxsutawney High School on Jan. 26. Ploucha has been a member of the Inner Circle since 1997, and Griffiths has been a member since 1999.

    The top-hat wearing Inner Circle members feed and take care of Phil and also travel with the prognosticating groundhog throughout Pennsylvania for various engagements. "He's been on television shows in New York City before, but we sometimes have problems with bringing him across state lines. Some states don't want Phil's type brought into their state, we have learned."

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    Ron Ploucha visits with Renee White and daughter Jolise at a “Meet Phil” event at Punxsutawney High School. Before retiring and volunteering full-time as Phil's handler, Ploucha was a math teacher at the school and White was one of his students.

    The 15 current Inner Circle members and five living retired members include a lawyer, dentist, construction worker, chiropractor and coal company owner.

    There's no manual for becoming a handler for the Seer of Seers. "We go through a very extensive training for this," said Ploucha jokingly. " It's a learn-as-you-go thing, and it takes time to get to know each other and develop trust (with Phil). Everybody smells and sounds different” Once members have proven themselves, they are set for life — there are no term limits within the Inner Circle.

    for NBC News / for NBC News
  • Punxsutawney Phil, the other 364 days of the year

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    Visitors look at Punxsutawney Phil inside his burrow at the library in Punxsutawney, Pa. As part of a project started by the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce, the first “Phantastic Phil” statue of its kind, greets visitors outside Phil's burrow.

    "We saw public art projects in other small towns, and the Chamber of Commerce thought it would be neat to bring that here and incorporate Phil," said Michele Neal, director of the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce. "At first we planned for 24 statues around town, but were having difficulty getting small businesses to sponsor them," Neal said. Once the community saw visitors congregating for photos with the statue, many businesses and organizations wanted to take part.” Now there are 32 statues designed and produced by local artists.

    for NBC News / for NBC News
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    Groundhog Club Inner Circle member Ron Ploucha pets Punxsutawney Phil while visiting him inside his burrow at the Punxsutawney Library on Sunday, Jan 27. "Phil's diet consists of various types of lettuce, iron-rich kale, celery and rabbit feed," explained Ploucha. "A special treat for Phil is a honey & oat granola bar. They are hard and crunchy which helps him keep his teeth healthy, sometimes we will even throw in a piece of wood for him to chew on."

    The club also claims Phil drinks a mysterious elixir that has allowed him to live for 128 years. The average lifespan of a groundhog is seven years, according to the Groundhog Club, but because Phil drink's his special elixir ever year, he will live forever.

    for NBC News / for NBC News
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    The Punxsutawney High School Chucks junior varsity basketball team huddles during a game against a local rival. "We're trying to learn how to bring our kids back to the area after they graduate,” said Michele Neal, director of the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce. We need to keep our community thriving with educated young people."

    for NBC News / for NBC News
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    Joseph Henninger, coordinator of The Punxsutawney Groundhog Festival — a week-long event that occurs each summer — stands inside The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The summer festival, in existence since 1966, promotes tourism to the area beyond Groundhog Day in early February.

    "We love all things Groundhog," said Henninger. "Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog Day are great for our town's struggling economy, and it even helps the other surrounding counties who provide lodging for the people that visit us on Feb. 2."

    for NBC News / for NBC News
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    Butch Philliber, a 25-year-member of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle, boards the Punxy Phil tour bus for a post 'Breakfast with Phil' drive while Alan Boynton, a visitor from Virginia Beach, Va., poses for a picture.

    "Groundhog Club actually started in Punxy as a summer hunting outing for the community to come together," explains Philliber, who is the third generation Inner Circle member in his family. "We do not eat Punxsutawney Phil, but we have no problems with people who choose to eat his distant cousins."

    "This is a happy holiday, it has nothing to do other than the legend of Punxsutawney Phil and his ability to predict the weather," said Philliber, likening Phil to Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

    for NBC News / for NBC News


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