PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA — It has been a brutally cold and snowy winter in much of the United States, and now a groundhog, a famed rotund rodent with an even more famous shadow, is predicting it is going to last another six weeks - much to the chagrin of those hoping for an early spring.
In an annual wintertime amusement on February 2, the famed groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil peaked his head out of his burrow at Gobblers Knob in the western Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney around 7:30 a.m. on Groundhog Day.
Weather forecasters mock his predictions, but legend has it that if Phil sees his shadow on Groundhog Day there will be another six weeks of winter. But if not, spring will come early.
On Sunday, as 20,000 people watched and cheered his name in a tradition made popular by the 1993 film comedy “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray. This year, Phil saw his shadow.
And that, or so the legend says, heralds more frigid temperatures and snow shoveling for Americans.
Groundhogs have been offering weather predictions in the tiny town of Punxsutawney 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.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.