Is there a method to Punxsutawney Phil's madness in predicting how long winter will last on Groundhog Day?
Since the tradition of Groundhog Day began in Punxsutawney in 1886, Phil has seen his shadow, on record, 102 times. There were 18 times that he did not see his shadow, and nine years during the late 1800s that there is no record of Phil's forecast.
Though Phil's method may seem flawed -- anticipating that the sight of his shadow determines a longer winter, while no shadow calls for an early spring -- he has a tendency to get it right. Because the year's coldest quarter, also known as meteorological winter, runs from Dec. 5 to March 5, Phil's accuracy in predicting a longer winter is about 80 percent.
Phil's logic comes from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox observances of Candlemas Day, tracing back almost 1,000 years.
Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha, left, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
"An early association between the weather forecast and the religious observance is found in a Scottish couplet: 'If Candlemas is fair and clear / There'll be two winters in the year,'" AccuWeather Chief Forecaster Elliot Abrams said.
"If the weather is 'fair,' the groundhog sees its shadow, and this is supposed to mean six more weeks of winter," Abrams said. "This is somewhat like saying that despite the sunshine on Groundhog Day, more winter is due." In any case, on this Groundhog Day, the Northeast and Northwest can plan on seeing six more weeks of winter.
Phil will emerge to make his next prognostication around 7:25 a.m. EST on Feb. 2, 2017.
Expanding rainfall will bring good news for unusually dry portions of the northeastern United States into the start of May.
Residents of the southeastern United States may feel like the calendar has flipped ahead to Memorial Day weekend with warm and muggy weather in place for the start of May.
A stormy pattern will persist across the western Gulf Coast into early May, threatening to renew the risk of flooding from Texas to Mississippi through at least Monday.
A late-April snowstorm dumped over a foot of heavy, wet snow across parts of Colorado on Thursday into Friday, boosting snowpack for an extended ski season at local resorts.
Those traveling during the end of the bank holiday weekend across the United Kingdom will face bouts of rain and increasingly gusty winds.
May Day festivities across northern Germany will have dry and milder weather while rain threatens to dampen areas farther to the south.
Cape Lookout (1883)
Storm tide swept over island, drowning sheep and cattle.
Unusually late coating of snow in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia.
United States (1982)
May produced 365 tornadoes in the U.S., the highest number for any month since reliable records have been available, according to NOAA. The May figure topped by 90 the May 1965 high of 275.