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Cold News on Groundhog Day: Phil Sees Shadow

Cold, cold news from famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil Sunday morning– his handlers report that he has seen his shadow, thus forecasting six more weeks of what already seems a brutal winter.

 

 Groundhog handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities
Groundhog handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

The news wasn’t any better from Phil’s Staten Island cousin, Chuck, who also saw his shadow and then dissed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio took part in his first official Groundhog Day ceremony on Sunday at the Staten Island Zoo. When he tried to hold Chuck, the rodent scrabbled out of his arms and made the leap to the ground below, where he was quickly picked up by a handler.

It could have been worse — in 2009, Chuck bit then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s finger.

In Pennsylvania, Chuck’s more famous cousin Phil emerged from his lair in front of thousands of fans around daybreak Sunday. [See CNN Video Coverage]

Phil’s prediction is actually drafted ahead of time by a group called the Inner Circle, whose members don top hats and tuxedos for the annual Groundhog Day ceremony on Gobbler’s Knob, the tiny hill in the town for which he’s named about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

According to records going back to 1887, Phil has now seen his shadow 101 times while failing to see it 17 times, according to the Inner Circle. There are no records for the remaining years.

This year’s Groundhog Day celebration marks a winter that has brought extreme cold to stretches of the country wholly unaccustomed to it, as well as a snow and ice storm that paralyzed Atlanta and other Southern cities.

Phil is the most famous of a small group of groundhogs said to forecast the weather, including Staten Island Chuck in New York and General Beauregard Lee in Atlanta.

The National Climatic Data Center has put Phil’s forecasts to the test and found them sorely lacking, declaring the groundhog has “no predictive skill.”

“It really isn’t a ‘bright’ idea to take a measure such as a groundhog’s shadow and use it as a predictive meteorological tool for the entire United States,” the data center says on its website, helpfully if somewhat obviously.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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