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

1 hour ago in Local

Springfield City Council to Discuss Waste Hauling Fee Increase

Fresh
garbage

The Springfield City Council may or may not consider raising garbage fees next month.

8 hours ago in Local

Dems Slate Two Candidates for Fall Election

vote

Democrats have slated Robert Spencer of Pleasant Plains to run against Don Gray for Sangamon County Clerk, while Circuit Clerk Paul Palazzolo will face opposition from Donnie Killen of Springfield.

8 hours ago in Local

Redfield: Capitol Has Similar, But Different, Feeling

ILLINOIS POLITICS 7-24-15 Mike Lawrence and Kent Redfield

University of Illinois Springfield Political Science Kent Redfield says in some ways, it actually feels like lawmakers are getting toward the end of the legislative session.

8 hours ago in Local, Sports

Nunn Dismissed from U of I Basketball Team

university illinois

The University of Illinois has dismissed junior guard Kendrick Nunn from the basketball team following his guilty plea to misdemeanor domestic battery.

8 hours ago in Local

Informant Suggests Drew Peterson Wants to Sell Drugs

FILE - In this May 8, 2009 file photo, former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant Drew Peterson arrives at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, Ill., for his arraignment on charges of first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife Kathleen Savio. On Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, Will County Judge Edward Burmila sentenced Peterson to 38 years in prison for Savio's murder.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

Secret recordings between Drew Peterson and an inmate he's accused of trying to enlist to help kill a prosecutor show that the former suburban Chicago police officer discussed selling drugs in Mexico if he gets out of prison.