Hank's Take: Is Groundhog Day a hoax?

For nearly 200 years, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania residents that are fed up with harsh winter weather have looked to a groundhog to predict news of an early spring.

If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, the region is in for 6 more weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

What sounds like a crazy concept has transformed over the years from Punxsutawney tradition to an American tradition.

But is there actually any validity in the predictions of Punxsutawney Phil? Can animals such as groundhogs accurately forecast the future?

The short answer is yes and no. It really depends on who you ask.

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club swears by the famous rodent.

"He's normally not wrong," said a member of the club. "I've misinterpreted him. It's not a fraud, people just don't understand the tradition."

Marisa Hadley, an handler at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown, did not endorse Punxsutawney Phil, but she did not totally discredit him either.

"I don't know! I mean, I can't even predict the future, so I don't know if an animal would be the best at that," said Hadley.

But Hadley revealed that groundhogs and similar vermin hunker down in the winter, and posses instincts to feel the temperature change.

"They can definitely innately feel when it's time to come back out into the world," said Hadley. "When the snow begins to melt there will be more food availability, so that's when they know when it's time."

Philadelphians can only hope Punxsutawney Phil was right this year. Earlier this month, the groundhog did not see his shadow, thus predicting warm weather is on the way.