A shortened winter season is ahead, according to Pennsylvania's famous groundhog and more than a half-dozen other groundhogs around the country.
Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his lair early Saturday on Gobbler's Knob in west-central Pennsylvania in front of thousands and did not see his shadow, signaling an early spring season is right around the corner.
Legend has it that if the furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2 on Gobbler's Knob in west-central Pennsylvania, winter will last six more weeks. But if he doesn't see his shadow, spring will come early.
The prediction is made during a ceremony overseen by a group called the Inner Circle. Members don top hats and tuxedos for the ceremony on Groundhog Day each year.
Bill Deeley, president of the Inner Circle, says that after "consulting" with Phil, he makes the call in deciphering what the world's Punxsutawney Phil has to say about the weather.
Organizers predicted about 20,000 people this weekend, a larger-than-normal crowd because Groundhog Day falls on a weekend this year.
Phil's early spring prediction appears to be the consensus as more than a half-dozen other groundhogs did not see their shadows in other smaller ceremonies around the country including the Staten Island Chuck and Dunkirk Dave in New York, Chattanooga Chuck in Tennessee, Groundhog Woody in Michigan, Birmingham Bill in Alabama, Buckeye Chuck in Ohio, Groundhogs Jimmy and Wynter in Wisconsin and Willy Woodstock in Illinois.
However, there were some early spring rejections.
Both Gen. Beauregard Lee of Georgia and Sir Walter Wally in North Carolina stepped out of their burrows to see their shadow, predicting a long winter. Beau claims a 94 percent accuracy rating, while Wally has only been right 47 percent of the time over the years.
Though Phil's official website describes him as the "seer of seers, prognosticator of prognosticators, weather prophet without peer," an analysis by the National Climatic Data Center shows that Phil's forecasts are often inaccurate.
Since the inception of Groundhog Day in 1887, Phil has seen his shadow a whopping 100 times, compared to only 16 instances where he saw no shadow.
In 2012, for example, Phil predicted six more weeks of winter, but the U.S. saw one of the warmest winters on record, dating back to 1895.