(Latest Information: Phil predicts longer winter. Click here)
Come Sunday, the famous forecaster groundhog will tell you all you need to know about the weather for the next six weeks.
Punxsutawney Phil, the bizarre prognosticating animal, will pop up from his borrow on 2 February and show the nation its unusual supernatural talent of letting you know the answer to a question most Americans have on their minds:
Will we have an early spring, or will the cold drag on until March?
According to the curious folklore, the groundhog emerges every year on 2 February from his temporary home on Gobbler's knob, located in a rural area in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. If Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, he has predicted six more weeks of winter weather. But if the quirky animal does not see his shadow, it means he has predicted an early spring!
The day (2 February) during which Phil makes his famous prognostication is known as 'Groundhog Day' in the US and Canada. Phil is considered the world's most powerful prognosticating rodent, and during the rest of the year when is not tasked with the job of forecasting the weather, he lives in the town library with his "wife" Phyllis.
Now the question everyone has is what will Phil predict this time around? The National Weather Service, which for the day could be considered Phil's rival, has predicted a cloudy day on Sunday, with some rain and snow possible. That means there are chances that he will not return to his borrow, thereby inviting an early spring.
But as history suggests, Phil can sometimes be fickle, so it's difficult to know what he will actually do. Scientific data indicate that the entire story of Phil's prognostication is nothing more than a way of celebrating folklore; and there is no actual correlation between Phil's prediction and the changes in the weather.
The National Climatic Data Center has described Phil's forecasts as "on average, inaccurate" and has said: "The groundhog has shown no talent for predicting the arrival of spring, especially in recent years".
However, the Groundhog Day organizers have claimed that Phil is accurate in predicting weather 75 to 90 percent of the time. A study of weather data over several decades for 13 cities across Canada, on the other hand, has revealed that the groundhog's predictions were correct only 37 percent of the time.
However, everything said and done, all eyes are on Phil for now and we will need to see what he predicts on Sunday.
Meanwhile, following are the three unique facts associated with this year's Groundhog Day and Phil in general:
1. This will be the first time Super Bowl will be played on Groundhog Day.
2. Phil is about 22 inches long and weighs about 20 pounds (9 kg). Phil is about five pounds heavier and about two inches longer than other average groundhog.
3. The 1993 film "Groundhog Day", starring Bill Murray, was released at the time when Phil saw his shadow.