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Punxsutawney Phil: 2011 will see early spring. Can we trust a groundhog?

The famous groundhog usually foresees six more weeks of winter, but the Punxsutawney Phil 2011 prediction is for early spring. Given his record, though, don't celebrate just yet.

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Punxsutawney Phil, the weather predicting groundhog, is placed on his stump during annual Groundhog Day festivities Wednesday, Feb. 2, in Punxsutawney, Pa.

Keith Srakocic/AP

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In the midst of repeat snow days that are more than a little reminiscent of the movie "Groundhog Day," Punxsutawney Phil has predicted that spring will come early this year.

We all want to believe, but how good is Phil’s word?

According to the StormFax Almanac, Phil has seen his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter 99 of 115 times, or about 86 percent of the time. But when Phil’s yearly Feb. 2 predictions are compared with historical records for Punxsutawney, Pa., it turns out the rodent weatherman was right only about 39 percent of the time.

That record is worse than if Phil had just tossed a coin, but perhaps he shouldn’t feel too bad. Seasoned meteorologists have trouble predicting temperatures accurately even a week in advance, according to a 2008 Freakonomics blog post.

So keep it up, Phil. Your fans will be there cheering next year, even if the winter of 2011 lasts a little longer than you predicted.

RELATED: Five little-known facts about Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog Day


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