YORK, Pa. — From below freezing temperatures at the start of the week, to temperatures in the mid-40s by the end, meteorologists aren't quite sure what Phil's going to predict on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2.
At this point, it's kind of a toss up. But for betting, perhaps, they suspect Phil won't see his shadow because of cloudy skies in the forecasts – predicting an early spring for the second straight year.
So, why is Groundhog Day even a thing and where does the legend come from? Here's a look at its history, how accurate Punxsutawney Phil has been and what predictions look like for 2020.What is the legend of Groundhog Day?
According to the legend:
If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.
That's how the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club describes the Feb. 2 tradition, marking the midway point of winter.
Is the tradition scientific? Absolutely not.
Are there other furry, weather-predicting animals? Certainly. They include West Virginia's French Creek Freddie, Georgia's Gen. Beauregard Lee, Ohio's Buckeye Chuck, North Carolina's Sir Walter Wally, Louisiana's Cajun Groundhog, Alabama's Smith Lake Jake, Wisconsin's Jimmy and New York's Staten Island Chuck (full name: Charles G. Hogg).
But the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has declared Phil the authoritative groundhog in this quirky myth.How accurate has Punxsutawney Phil been in the past?
Let's not get carried away with his prediction. Turns out that flipping a coin might be as accurate as Phil. Since 1988, the groundhog has been "right" 14 times and "wrong" 18 times.
In other words, in only 14 of the last 32 years did the national average temperature for the remainder of February match what would be expected based on what the groundhog predicted.
Phil was "wrong" last year. He didn't see his shadow, so there should have been an early spring. But February was colder than average across the U.S.
The experts agree: "There is no predictive skill for the groundhog during the most recent years of the analysis," according to NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.
This is the 134th year that Phil has made his prediction.Predictions for 2020 in Punxsutawney
The National Weather Service predicts it will be cloudy with a high near 40 degrees. They are also calling for rain and snow showers.
AccuWeather predicts it will be considerably cloudy with a high of 39, and a chance for snow flurries.
The Weather Channel predicts a 40% chance of snow showers and a high near 36 degrees.
Phil will have the last word, though.
The prognostication celebration starts at 3 a.m. EST Sunday at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney. Phil makes his prediction around 7:25 a.m.