News

Same old Groundhog Day: Phil predicts more winter

Same old Groundhog Day: Phil predicts more winter

NOT THE RESULT WE WERE HOPING FOR: Phil says it'll be six more weeks of winter, not the answer most Americans wanted to hear. Photo: Reuters

By Elizabeth Daley

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pennsylvania (Reuters) – Punxsutawney Phil, a famed groundhog with an even more famous shadow, emerged from his burrow on Sunday and predicted six more weeks of winter, much to the chagrin of those hoping for an early spring.

The rotund rodent exited his subterranean residence at Gobblers Knob in the western Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney around 7:30 a.m. on Groundhog Day.

The fuzzy forecaster made his appearance to the shouts of “groundhog,” as eager spectators waited to see whether the groundhog – as the legend goes – will see his shadow and predict six more weeks of snow and freezing temperatures. If he does not, we can expect an early spring.

This year, Phil predicted that winter will stretch on.

The annual event, made even more popular by the 1993 film comedy “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray, draws thousands of faithful followers from as far away as Australia and Russia.

Phil’s forecast of six more weeks of winter was bittersweet for some in attendance.

“I happen to be a positive person, so I do embrace the here and now and I will enjoy the next six weeks of winter with the best attitude and be happy to be alive and healthy with my good friends,” said Lori Weber, 54, a real estate broker from Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

Others came out early, braving drizzle and low-light, just to experience the event.

Carrie Juvan, 37, of Cleveland, Ohio came with her father.

“We are here having a blast because dad put it on his bucket list. I like snow but I am ready for the spring. He asked me about it months ago and I instantly said yes,” she said.

Groundhogs have been offering weather predictions in the tiny town since 1887. After the movie was released, record crowds numbering as many as 30,000 have been drawn to the event, according to groundhog.org

With a shadow powerful enough to lift spirits – or dash them – Phil has met with Pennsylvania governors and appeared on national television talk shows and New York City’s Times Square JumboTron. In 1986, he even traveled to Washington to meet with President Ronald Reagan, the website said.

Phil’s busy schedule is packed into the months before groundhogs, also called woodchucks, go into hibernation – usually after the first frost, according to NationalGeographic.com.

Hibernation is less like a deep sleep and more like a coma, with the groundhog’s heart rate plunging, blood scarcely flowing, body temperature dropping to a few degrees above freezing and breathing nearly stopped, said groundhog.org.

(Editing by Victoria Cavaliere, Barbara Goldberg, Steve Orlofsky and Rosalind Russell)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

NBA: Watch the top 10 plays of the season

Fresh
24-overlay5

Some of the year's biggest dunks and best shots.

in Sports

Preview: NHL games of the night

Fresh
19-overlay4

WATCH: A look at the slate of Stanley Cup playoff games being played tonight, April 21.

in Music, Sports

Is R&B star Ciara dating Super Bowl champ Russell Wilson?

Fresh
ciara

Rumor has it the "Goodies" hitmaker is dating the Seahawks QB.

in Sports

Tebow finds a team

Fresh
timtebow

The former Heisman Trophy winner hasn't played in the NFL since 2012.

in Sports

Tuesday’s Sports Minute

Fresh
bulls

A look at some of the big sports stories making headlines today, Tuesday, April 21.