Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Six More Weeks of Winter

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 2 2014 11:42 AM

No Relief in Sight: Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Six More Weeks of Winter

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Groundhog handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities

Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous of a pack of weather-predicting groundhogs across the country, played it safe this year, allegedly seeing his shadow and predicting six more weeks of winter, as usual. Yet all those tired of winter can take comfort in the fact that Phil isn’t right that often. Last year, for example, Phil didn’t see his shadow but the cold and snow continued deep into March for the eastern United States, notes the Washington Post. This year, the groundhog is back with the usual prediction. Overall, Phil has seen his shadow 101 times, and hasn’t seen it 17 times.

The famous Pennsylavania groundhog was woken up at 7:28 a.m. and thousands of fans gathered to watch in the annual tradition of trying to determine whether Phil cast a shadow or not. But the truth is shadows don’t have much to do with the predictions anymore. The Associated Press explains:

In reality, Phil's prediction is decided ahead of time by a group called the Inner Circle, whose members don top hats and tuxedos for the annual ceremony on Gobbler's Knob, the tiny hill in the town for which he's named about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
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Meanwhile, Staten Island Chuck also predicted six more weeks of winter. But it seems he’s not a big fan of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who wore thick gloves to the ceremony in case Chuck tried to bite him. When Chuck’s handler handed off the groundhog, de Blasio flinched and Chuck tried to get away and fell to the ground, reports the Staten Island Advance. No one was hurt.

Wiarton Willie of Ontario, Canada, also predicted six more weeks of winter but General Beau Lee in Atlanta did not see his shadow, “foretelling an early spring for the Sunny South.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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