Weather-watchers across the United States are poised Tuesday to hear whether they can count on an early spring, or six more weeks of winter.
But the accuracy of this annual forecast is dubious, as the prediction is made by a groundhog.
February 2 marks Groundhog Day, when traditionally a Pennsylvania groundhog known as “Punxsutawney Phil” is expected to make an appearance above ground, near the cozy tree stump he calls home. Legend has it that if he sees his shadow — i.e., if it is a sunny day — North America is in for six more weeks of winter weather.
If not, spring will arrive soon.
Punxsutawney Phil is the most famous of the furry forecasters, but other U.S. states, as well as Canada, have their own groundhogs to consult. The tradition stretches back to at least 1887. Records show that Phil has predicted more winter far more often than he indicates an early spring.