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Punxsutawney Phil Exposed! Just How Accurate Are His Forecasts?

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Bill Murray met the Punxsutawney Phil from hell in his hilarious 1993 movie 'Groundhog Day.'

Bill Murray met the Punxsutawney Phil from hell in his hilarious 1993 movie ‘Groundhog Day.’

Punxsutawney Phil, the scruffy rodent dragged out of his borough every year to predict–with great fanfare–the weather, is just about as clueless on when winter will end as your average television news weatherman.

Phil, who is related to squirrels and marmots, made his appearance today (Feb. 2) and, gasp! He saw his shadow.

That means the nation is in for six more weeks of winter weather. If it’s anything like the last six weeks, it’s sure to be one for the record books.

But before you go out and chop extra firewood, or bunker down in your own borough, it might be wise to check in with the National Climatic Data Center in Ashville, N.C., which tracks weather trends.

The federal bureaucrats who man the center aren’t out to spoil a party, or national tradition, but if truth be told, Phil is more often wrong than right.

“The groundhog has shown no talent for predicting the arrival of spring, especially in recent years,” the center said in a prepared statement.

Over the past 24 years– 1988 to 2012–the groundhog was on the money 10 times and dead wrong 15 times, according to the center’s data.

Phil was half-right last year when he didn’t see his shadow, signaling an early Spring. February was warmer than average, but March was colder.

Even so, Phil has been a great attraction for Puxsutawney, Pa., where the groundhog first appeared in 1887, when animals really were the best predictor of weather.

Since then, a number of other towns have tried to crash the party.

Would you believe West Virginia has French Creek Freddie; Georgia has Gen. Beauregard Lee; Ohio is home to Buckeye Chuck; North Carolina has Sir Wally Wally, Alabama has Smith Lake Jake and New York has Staten Island Chuck?

“Phil’s competitor groundhogs across the nation fared no better,” the weather center said.

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