Handler Ron Ploucha holds up Punxsutawney Phil in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday. The handlers say the furry rodent didn’t see his shadow, meaning he "predicted" an early spring. (Mark Pynes /Pennlive.com via AP)

The handlers of Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, say the furry rodent failed to see his shadow this year, meaning he has “predicted” an early spring.

Members of the top-hat-wearing group called the Inner Circle announced the “forecast” at sunrise, just before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

A German legend has it that if a furry rodent sees its shadow February 2, winter will last six more weeks. If not, spring comes early.

In reality, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by the group, which gets together for an annual ceremony on Gobbler’s Knob, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Records going back to 1887 show Phil has predicted more winter 102 times while forecasting an early spring just 18 times. (There isn’t a record for every year.)

How accurate is Phil’s prediction? Not very. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that in the past 10 years, he has been correct only 40 percent of the time. So don’t pack up the snow boots just yet.

— Wire and staff reports