To believe or not to believe

Punxsatawney Phil looks for his shadow.

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On the 33rd day of every year, we anxiously await a groundhog's prediction of how much longer the winter season will stick around. So far this winter, the Grand Strand and Pee Dee have been abnormally cold with the majority of days being below, if not well below, average.

Punxsatawney Phil makes his appearance every year at Gobbler's Knob in Pennsylvania. The weather on February 2, the halfway point between the start of winter and the start of spring, signifies how much longer winter will last. An old saying sums up this tradition:

  • If Candlemas be fair and bright,
  • Winter has another flight.
  • If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
  • Winter will not come again.

Candlemas Day is a Christian holiday that is also celebrated on February 2.

A lot of people would like to see an early spring. Should we, however, trust the furry little creature's forecast? Let's take a look at Phil's track record.

The very first Groundhog Day dates back to 1887 and the predictions have always lacked accuracy. Since 1887, Punxsatawney Phil has seen his shadow 99 times. 15 times he did not see his shadow, and there are 9 times with no record. Out of the 114 predictions, Punxsatawney Phil was correct only 39% of the time.

While Phil has been the most popular, he is not the only prognosticator around. Sir Walter Wally in Raleigh, North Carolina has done slightly better in the thirteen years he has been predicting, with a 62% accuracy. General Beauregard Lee of Atlanta, Georgia has only a 31% accuracy rate in his many years on the job.

How well do you know your groundhogs? Try to match the groundhogs on the left with their hometowns on the right. We've already helped you with a few. The answers are at the end of the story.

Groundhog quiz

Buckeye Chuck Tampa, Florida Octoraro Orphie Sun Prairie, Wisconsin Jimmy the Groundhog New York, New York General Beauregard Lee Marion, Ohio Sir Walter Wally Quarryville, Pennsylvania Pardon Me Pete Alberta, Canada Spanish Joe Atlanta, Georgia Woody Spanish Ontario, Canada Staten Island Chuck Raleigh, North Carolina Balzac Billy Howell, Michigan

Whether it be the Woolly Worm, who holds an accuracy rate of 80% in predicting the severity of the upcoming winter, or cows lying down in a field indicating that rain is on the way, do you trust animals when it comes to forecasting the weather? With these statistics, should you believe Phil and his gang of groundhogs?

NewsChannel 15's Ed Piotrowski is working on his forecast for the rest of the winter season. He'll reveal how much longer he thinks the winter will last on Wednesday on NewsChannel 15 at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., and 11 p.m., as well as right here on See how his prediction compares with those of General Beauregard Lee and Punxsatawney Phil.

Groundhog quiz answers

Buckeye Chuck Marion, Ohio Octoraro Orphie Quarryville, Pennsylvania Jimmy the Groundhog Sun Prairie, Wisconsin General Beauregard Lee Atlanta, Georgia Sir Walter Wally Raleigh, North Carolina Pardon Me Pete Tampa, Florida Spanish Joe Spanish Ontario, Canada Woody Howell, Michigan Staten Island Chuck New York, New York Balzac Billy Alberta, Canada