Groundhog says six more weeks of winter Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha, right, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, as Jeff Lundy, left, reads Phil's weather proclamation of six-more weeks of winte (AP photos)
Groundhog says six more weeks of winter

The handlers of Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, say the furry rodent has forecast six more weeks of winter.

Members of the top hat-wearing Inner Circle announced the "prediction" Monday morning.

A German legend has it that if a furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another six weeks, and if he fails to see his shadow, spring comes early.

The forecast was also announced on Twitter, as was referenced in the official proclamation read by Bill Deeley, 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 turned to snow as temperatures dropped from the high 30s to around freezing. They were forecast to keep dropping over much of the state. That prompted the state Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit to 45 mph for many interstate highways, which already were wet and expected to freeze or be covered with snow as the day wore on.

The rain kept some revelers away, with state police estimating the crowd at around 11,000. The gathering was slightly smaller than in recent years when upward of 15,000 attended.

No mention was made of Sunday night's Super Bowl. That was unlike Groundhog Day 2009, the last time the celebration occurred the morning after the big game. The 2009 game was won by the nearby Pittsburgh Steelers.

Despite the German legend, Phil's handlers don't wait to see if he sees his shadow as 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, 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?

Assigned 5 times

  • TM-Rei
    2/10/2015 - 08:56 p.m.

    The reason for this was because since so many steelers fans were located in this area for the super bowl the traffic was horrific not just because of the Superbowl traffic but also ice and snow on the roads. This lead to horrific traffic in Pittsburgh because of the 6 weeks of winter left.

  • Steve0620-yyca
    4/12/2016 - 09:33 p.m.

    I did not know that there has been a German legend about a groundhog and the length of winter. If a groundhog sees its shadow on February second, the length of winter will be increased by six weeks but if it did not see its shadow on February second, spring will come early. There was a forecast that water would turn into snow because the temperatures kept dropping. People are deciding what the future weather temperatures will be like and are going ahead of the forecast. They do not think that the legend is true.

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