October 25, 2020

Six more weeks of winter

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Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his lair to “see” his shadow on Thursday, in the process predicting six more weeks of winter.

But, at this rate, that might not be so bad.

The groundhog made his “prediction” on Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill in the town for which he’s named about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Temperatures were near freezing when he emerged at dawn — unseasonably warm — and were forecast to climb into the mid-40s in a winter that’s brought little snow and only a few notably cold days to much of the East.

Organisers expected 15,000 to 18,000 people to witness the furry creature’s prognostication ceremony just before 7:30am EST.

The Groundhog Day celebration is rooted in a German superstition that says if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2, the Christian holiday of Candlemas, winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says, spring will come early.

The tradition attained a large following with the 1993 Bill Murray comedy “Groundhog Day,” in which a weatherman covering the event must relive the day over and over again. Before the movie came out, Phil was lucky to have an audience of 2,500, said Mike Johnston, vice president of the Inner Circle.

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