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Will Punxsutawney Phil Be Right This Year?

Another Groundhog Day has come and gone. And despite his predictions of an early spring, this year's record-setting winter has some people wondering whether famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's powers are as real as claimed.

CBS News correspondent Whit Johnson notes Phil didn't see his shadow yesterday, meaning he predicts an early spring. But if you ask anyone who lived through yesterday's monster storm, Phil's methods leave a lot to be desired.

PICTURES: Punxsutawney Phil Through the Years

Each year on Feb. 2, the world's most famous forecaster emerges as if he were royalty. Phil tells a weather-fatigued country how much more winter it'll have to endure.

Mike Johnston, vice president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle, said, "He surveyed his surroundings carefully and found that there was no shadow around. So an early spring it will be!"

Johnson explained the system is simple: If Phil doesn't see his shadow, spring is right around the corner. If he does, the pains of winter will ache another six weeks.

With much of the nation exhausted by the historically brutal winter, Phil's 2011 prediction of an early spring came as cold comfort.

In more than a century on the job, Phil has almost always predicted a longer winter. But his forecasts usually miss the mark. His accuracy is only 39 percent.

Despite his stormy record, he still has some true believers.

One woman told CBS News, "I believe in the groundhog. I believe in it -- you've got to."

Bernie Rayno, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com, said, "He has the easiest job in the world. He hibernates during the winter, pops his head up on one day and makes a prediction."

Rayno says in a business where accuracy is everything, the groundhog is getting by on his looks alone.

"If I was only right 39 percent of the time, I think I'd lose the rest of my hair and probably my job," he said.

Johnson concluded, "So as the country battles the latest deep freeze, our best hope for a quick thaw is Phil's often flawed weather eye."

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