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Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil ‘predicts’ early spring

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Groundhog Club co-handler John Griffiths held Punxsutawney Phil during the annual celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., today. The handlers say the furry rodent has failed to see his shadow, meaning he’s “predicted” an early spring.

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. » The handlers of Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, said the furry rodent failed to see his shadow at dawn today, meaning he “predicted” an early spring.

“Is this current warm weather more than a trend? Perchance this winter has come to an end? There is no shadow to be cast, an early Spring is my forecast!,” read Jeff Lundy, vice president of the Inner Circle of The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

Lundy is a member of the group sporting top hats that announces the forecast every year.

A German legend has it that if a furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2 winter will last another six weeks. If not, spring comes early.

The forecast was delivered with temperatures in the low 20s, on a clear day when the temperature was expected to reach the unseasonably mild mid-40s.

The Inner Circle congratulated the mid-week crowd of about 10,000 revelers, which the group said was one of the largest for a weekday celebration. Many of those in attendance had stayed overnight and partied into the wee hours waiting for the groundhog’s forecast.

Truth be told, Phil’s handlers don’t wait to see if he sees his shadow — which he almost certainly would have today. Instead, the Inner Circle decide on the forecast ahead of time and announce it on Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill near the town for which the groundhog is named, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Records dating to 1887 show Phil has predicted more winter 102 times, while forecasting an early spring just 18 times. There are no records for the remaining years.

Today’s celebration was billed as the 130th forecast by Phil.

A number of other prognosticating groundhogs sided with Phil on the extended forecast.

The handlers for Staten Island Chuck in New York, General Beauregard Lee in Georgia and Jimmy the Groundhog in Wisconsin said the rodents predicted an early spring.

But, others didn’t agree. In Michigan, handlers of Woody the Woodchuck said she predicted six more weeks of winter. The same went for Ohio’s Buckeye Chuck.

And in Canada, two four-legged forecasters split the decision. Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam called for an early spring, while Ontario’s Wiarton Willie expected six more weeks of winter.

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  • Love that movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. The story was filmed in Puxsutawney, Pa. Smart tourism marketed idea. So funny that replayed video when Phil bit the Mayor’s ear.

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