Punxsutawney Phil, right, is held by Ben Hughes after emerging from his burrow on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., to
With cloudy skies forecast for western Pennsylvania on Tuesday morning, it's unlikely famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow when he pops out of his burrow, meaning he won't promptly rush back inside.
That's assuming he isn't freaked out by the blinding lights and overall hullabaloo.
According to legend, if Phil sees his shadow on Feb. 2, the scared groundhog returns to his burrow and the USA is in store for six more weeks of winter. But, if he doesn’t see his shadow, the country can expect warmer temperatures and an early spring.
Unfortunately, based on past weather data, "there is no predictive skill for the groundhog during the most recent years of the analysis," according to a report released Friday by the National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, N.C.
Flipping a coin might be as accurate as Phil. Since 1988, the groundhog was "right" 13 times and "wrong" 15 times. In other words, only 13 times did the national average temperature for the remainder of February match what would be expected based on what the groundhog predicted.
Last year, the fuzzy rodent saw his shadow, so winter should have dragged on another six weeks. Phil received a mixed grade for 2015 — while the nation had a slightly below-average February, it had a warmer-than-average March.
Since 1887, the groundhog has seen his shadow 102 times to forecast a longer winter and not seen it 17 times to predict an early spring. (There is no record of the prediction for 10 times in the late 19th century.)
Although Phil is the most famous hog, other furry forecasters include West Virginia's French Creek Freddie, Georgia's Gen. Beauregard Lee, Ohio's Buckeye Chuck, North Carolina's Sir Wally Wally, Louisiana's Cajun Groundhog, Alabama's Smith Lake Jake and New York's Staten Island Chuck (full name: Charles G. Hogg).
Groundhog Day's origins lie in an ancient European celebration of Candlemas, which is a point midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
Superstition has it that fair weather predicted a stormy and cold second half to winter, as noted in this Old English saying:
"If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again."