(USA TODAY) - Punxsutawney Phil, the world's most famous fuzzy forecaster, will pop out of his burrow Sunday morning in western Pennsylvania to tell the nation what our weather will be like for the next six weeks.
Will we have an early spring, or will winter drag on until mid-March?
According to folklore, if it's cloudy when the groundhog emerges, the critter will leave his burrow, signifying that winter will soon end. If it's a sunny day, Phil will supposedly see his shadow and, frightened, retreat back into his burrow, and winter will continue for six more weeks.
The forecast from the National Weather Service is for a cloudy day, with some rain and snow possible, but Phil can be very fickle, so it's hard to know what he'll do.
An analysis of weather data from the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., shows that Phil's forecasts are, on average, inaccurate. "The groundhog has shown no talent for predicting the arrival of spring, especially in recent years," according to the center. "Phil's competitor groundhogs across the nation fared no better."
The center found that from 1988 to 2012, the groundhog was right 10 times and wrong 15 times. In other words, 10 times, the national average temperature for the remainder of February matched what would be expected based on what the groundhog predicted.
Last year, the furry rodent did not see his shadow, so there should have been an early spring. Phil gets a mixed grade last year - the nation had a slightly warmer than average February but a chillier than average March.
Since 1887, the groundhog has seen his shadow 100 times (meaning six more weeks of winter), and not seen it 17 times to predict an early spring.
There is no record of the prediction for nine years in the late 19th century.
Although Phil is the most famous hog of them all, other prognosticating groundhogs include West Virginia's French Creek Freddie, Georgia's Gen. Beauregard Lee, Ohio's Buckeye Chuck, North Carolina's Sir Wally Wally, Alabama's Smith Lake Jake and New York's Staten Island Chuck (full name: Charles G. Hogg).
Groundhog Day has its origins in an ancient celebration of Candlemas, a point midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, according to the climate center.
Superstition has it that fair weather was seen as a prediction of 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."
You may also like...
Arrrrrr! Pirates invade Tampa for Gasparilla
Treason? Secret Service visits candidate who says Obama should hang
Mystery House: Unsuspecting house holds a hidden secret
Abuse Arrest: Hog-hunting mom leaves kids in freezing car
Seeking Sasquatch: Bigfoot sightings abound in Colorado
Cyclist stuck in windshield: "Hi, I'm the guy you hit"
Miracle Baby: Tampa toddler has 5-organ transplant
Here kitty, kitty: Lion escapes enclosure at Pasco sanctuary
#ShortYellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights
Kittens shot: Officer shoots kittens in front of children
Popular photo galleries:
Faces of Meth: Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers
Trayvon Martin Shooting: Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos
Hooters Winners: Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant
Rejected: Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV***warning graphic***
Deadly sinkhole: Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole
Florida Sex Offenders: Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here
Restaurant Inspections: Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here