1 February 2013, 16:52

Early spring or long winter? Groundhog Phil to hint at weather for next six weeks tomorrow

Early spring or long winter? Groundhog Phil to hint at weather for next six weeks tomorrow

Tomorrow on February 2, or Groundhog Day as many of us know, the US’ most famous forecaster – Punxsutawney Phil – will pop out of his hole to predict what the weather will be like over the next six weeks.

People say if there are clouds in the sky, a groundhog will not see his shadow and leave his hole, which means spring will come soon; if it is sunny, the animal will see its shadow, get frightened and retreat back home, which means winter will last for six weeks more.

The largest celebration of Groundhog Day is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The tradition of watching a groundhog emerging out of his burrow has become known all over the world after the movie Groundhog Day was released in 1993. The film starred American actors Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell and groundhog Phil from Punxsutawney.

This time it will be the 127th year the annual tradition is celebrated.

The National Weather Service has forecast clouds in the sky and some snow for tomorrow in Punxsutawney. Those tired of the snowy season certainly hope for the best, but Phil is usually described as a fickle, so tomorrow’s show is a complete intrigue.

Meteorologists from the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina, say they analyzed Phil’s predictions and weather data over the past 25 years and concluded that the furry animal had no predictive skill. The center experts say since 1988, the groundhog has been "right" 10 times and "wrong" 15 times.

Last year Phil was wrong. He saw his shadow and got back in the hole, leaving thousands in gloomy mood over more than a month of winter-like weather ahead. But the end of February was warm last year and March was called the warmest one in the US history.

Phil has numerous “colleagues”, some of them 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.

Groundhog Day has its origins in an ancient Celtic celebration of Candlemas, a point midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is believed that fair weather was a prediction of a stormy and cold second half to winter.

An Old saying explains it all:

“If Candlemas be fair and bright,

Winter has another flight.

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,

Winter will not come again.”

Voice of Russia, USA Today

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