Groundhog says six more weeks of winter
Be prepared for more winter.
So said the handlers of Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog. He's Punxsutawney Phil. His handlers say the furry rodent has made his annual forecast. And we're in for six more weeks of winter.
Members of the Inner Circle announced the "prediction" Monday morning. The members are known for wearing top hats.
The forecast comes from a German legend. It says 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 also announced on Twitter. That's where the official proclamation was read by Bill Deeley. He is the president of the Inner Circle.
"Forecasts abound on the Internet, but, I, Punxsutawney Phil, am still your best bet. Yes, a shadow I see, you can start to Twitter, hash tag: Six more weeks of winter!"
The forecast was delivered after a steady pre-dawn rain. It turned to snow. Temperatures dropped from the high 30s to around freezing.
The rain kept some revelers away. State police estimated the crowd at around 11,000. The gathering was slightly smaller than in recent years.
Despite the German legend, Phil's handlers don't wait to see if he sees his shadow. He likely would not have on such an overcast day. Instead, the Inner Circle decides on the forecast ahead of time. The group announces it on Gobbler's Knob. It's a tiny hill in the town for which the groundhog is named. Punxsutawney is about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Records going back to 1887 show Phil has now predicted more winter 102 times. An early spring was the forecast just 17 times. There are no records for the remaining years.
Critical thinking challenge: Why was the result of the Super Bowl bigger news in Punxsutawney in 2009 than this year?