Punxsutawney Phil 2011

Posted by Zotta Rendevouz


Punxutawney Phil 2011

Amid another major winter storm in a large part of the country, many readers want to know what the legendary predictor of an early or late spring, the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, saw when he came out of his hutch on Groundhog's Day Wednesday.

Phil came out of hiding in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and did not see his shadow -- that means we are in for an early spring, if you believe the furry prognosticator.

Including Wednesday's forecast, Phil has seen his shadow 98 times and hasn't seen it just 16 times since 1887, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle, which runs the event. There are no records for the remaining years, though the group has never failed to issue a forecast.

Two years ago, Phil's forecast also acknowledged the Steelers' Super Bowl XLIII win the night before. This year, Sunday's game was mentioned in the forecast but no winner was predicted between the Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, who meet in Dallas for Super Bowl XLV.

"The Steelers are going to the Super Bowl," Mike Johnson, vice president of the Inner Circle, said just before the forecast was read, drawing cheers from the clearly partisan crowd gathered on Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill in this borough of about 6,100 residents some 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

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 was seen, legend said spring would come early.

In reality, Pennsylvania's prophetic rodent doesn't see much of anything. The result is actually decided in advance by 14 members of the Inner Circle, who don tuxedos and top hats for the event.

The celebration usually draws 10,000 to 15,000 spectators when it falls on a weekday, Groundhog club spokesman Luke Webber said. The area was under a winter weather warning and while heavier snows and sleet never materialized, rain falling in about 35-degree temperatures made for a below-average crowd, said Webber, who offered no specific estimate.