Pennsylvania groundhog 'forecasts' 6 more weeks of winter

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Pennsylvania groundhog 'forecasts' 6 more weeks of winter
Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, takes a bite out of the gloved hand of handler Ron Ploucha during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania's famous groundhog with an even more famous shadow, emerged from his burrow on Monday (February 2) and predicted six more weeks of winter, bringing groans from the assembled crowd who'd been hoping for an early spring. The rodent exited his subterranean residence at Gobblers Knob in the western Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney around 7:25 a.m.
The first official #PunxsutawneyPhil #Groundhogday selfie!!! http://t.co/JXqoMwpzSD
Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths, left, and co-handler Ron Ploucha, right, carry Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, on his rounds of downtown Punxsutawney, Pa., Sunday, Feb.1, 2015, the eve of the 129th Groundhog Day celebration on Gobbler's Knob. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths, left, and co-handler Ron Ploucha, right, carry Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, on his rounds of downtown Punxsutawney, Pa., Sunday, Feb.1, 2015, the eve of the 129th Groundhog Day celebration on Gobbler's Knob. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha, center, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha, left, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha, center, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, takes a bite out of the gloved hand of handler Ron Ploucha during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Tressa Wright, left, and Martha Rupert, center, of Harborside, Maine, arrive at Gobbler's Knob in the rain to wait for Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Ramona Ortega of Phoenix, Arizona, sits in a pile of snow in the rain waiting for Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club co-handlers John Griffiths, right, and Ron Ploucha, carry Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, on his rounds of downtown Punxsutawney, Pa., Sunday, Feb.1, 2015, the eve of the 129th Groundhog Day celebration on Gobbler's Knob. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club co-handlers John Griffiths, right, and Ron Ploucha, carry Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, on his rounds of downtown Punxsutawney, Pa., Sunday, Feb.1, 2015, the eve of the 129th Groundhog Day celebration on Gobbler's Knob. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Groundhog handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Ramona Ortega of Phoenix, Arizona, sits in a pile of snow in the rain waiting for Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club co-handlers John Griffiths, right, and Ron Ploucha, carry Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, on his rounds of downtown Punxsutawney, Pa., Sunday, Feb.1, 2015, the eve of the 129th Groundhog Day celebration on Gobbler's Knob. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Visitors to Gobbler's Knob stand in the rain waiting for Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club co-handlers John Griffiths, right, and Ron Ploucha carry Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, on his rounds through downtown Punxsutawney, Pa., Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, the eve of the 129th Groundhog Day celebration on Gobbler's Knob. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: The crowd gathers during the Groundhog Day festivities where Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Punxsutawney Phil relaxes in his cage after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: The crowd gathers during the Groundhog Day festivities where Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Punxsutawney Phil relaxes in his cage after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Dr Missy Fraser, of Boston, Massachusetts, celebrating her 40th birthday, cheers as Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Dr Missy Fraser, of Boston, Massachusetts, celebrating her 40th birthday, cheers as Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: The crowd cheers during festivities of Groundhog Day where Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Groundhog handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Groundhog handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Punxsutawney Phil relaxes in his cage after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Groundhog handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Groundhog handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil after he saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter during 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2014 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A smaller than usual crowd this year of less than 25,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 02: President Bill Deeley (R) of Punxsutawney's 'Inner Circle' tap on the door of Punxsutawney Phil's burrow as he and groundhog co-handlers John Griffiths (2nd R) and Ron Ploucha (3rd L) entice Phil out during the 127th Groundhog Day Celebration at Gobbler's Knob on February 2, 2013 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The Punxsutawney 'Inner Circle' claimed that there were about 35,000 people gathered at the event to watch Phil's annual forecast. Phil did not see his shadow and predicting an early spring. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 02: Punxsutawney Phil climbs on the shoulder of groundhog co-handler John Griffiths (R) after Phil did not see his shadow and predicting an early spring during the 127th Groundhog Day Celebration at Gobbler's Knob on February 2, 2013 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The Punxsutawney 'Inner Circle' claimed that there were about 35,000 people gathered at the event to watch Phil's annual forecast. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 02: Groundhog co-handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil after Phil did not see his shadow and predicting an early spring during the 127th Groundhog Day Celebration at Gobbler's Knob on February 2, 2013 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The Punxsutawney 'Inner Circle' claimed that there were about 35,000 people gathered at the event to watch Phil's annual forecast. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 02: Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil climbs on the top hat of his handler after Phil did not see his shadow and predicting an early spring during the 127th Groundhog Day Celebration at Gobbler's Knob on February 2, 2013 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The Punxsutawney 'Inner Circle' claimed that there were about 35,000 people gathered at the event to watch Phil's annual forecast. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Punxsutawney Phil is held by Ron Ploucha after emerging from his burrow Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., to see his shadow and forecast six more weeks of winter weather. The prediction this year fell on the same day as Super Bowl Sunday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths, left, and co-handler Ron Ploucha carry Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, on his rounds through downtown Punxsutawney, Pa., Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, the eve of the 129th Groundhog Day celebration on Gobbler's Knob. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Punxsutawney Phil is held by Ron Ploucha after emerging from his burrow Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., to see his shadow and forecast six more weeks of winter weather. The prediction this year fell on the same day as Super Bowl Sunday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Fans of Punxsutawney Phil cheer after Phil emerged from his burrow on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., to see his shadow and forecast six more weeks of winter weather Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. This year's Groundhog Day celebration marks a winter that has brought extreme cold to stretches of the country wholly unaccustomed to it, as well as a snow and ice storm that paralyzed Atlanta and other Southern cities. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) -- The handlers of Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, said Monday the furry rodent has forecast six more weeks of winter.

Members of the top hat-wearing Inner Circle announced the "prediction" Monday morning.

A German legend has it that if a furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another six weeks. If not, spring comes early.

The forecast was also announced on Twitter, as was referenced in the official proclamation read by Jeff Lundy, the Fair Weatherman of the Inner Circle.

"Forecasts abound on the Internet, but, I, Punxsutawney Phil am still your best bet. Yes, a shadow I see, you can start to Twitter, hash tag: Six more weeks of winter!"

The forecast was delivered after a steady pre-dawn rain turned to snow as temperatures dropped from the high 30s to around freezing. They were forecast to keep dropping over much of the state, prompting the state Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit to 45 mph for many interstate highways which were already wet and expected to freeze or be covered with snow as the day wore on.

The rain kept some revelers away, with state police estimating the crowd at around 11,000, slightly smaller than in recent years when upward of 15,000 attended.

Despite the German legend, Phil's handlers don't wait to see if he sees his shadow - as he likely would not have on such an overcast day. Instead, the Inner Circle decide on the forecast ahead of time and announce it on Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill in the town for which the groundhog is named, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Records going back to 1887 show Phil has now predicted more winter 102 times while forecasting an early spring just 17 times. There are no records for the remaining years.

Phil's counterpart in New York City, Staten Island Chuck, delivered a conflicting message in calling for an early spring after not seeing his shadow.

Chuck emerged from his home at the Staten Island Zoo early Monday and took part in a new ceremony that didn't include being held by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Last year, in de Blasio's first time at the annual ceremony, the rodent slipped from his grasp and fell to the ground. It died weeks later.

A medical exam revealed it died of internal injuries, but zoo officials said it was unclear if they were caused by the fall from de Blasio's arms. Zoo officials didn't make the death public for months.

The accident became a source of teasing for the mayor, and de Blasio himself suggested Monday that "teams of animal behavior experts and scientists have consulted from all over the country" to keep the groundhog safe.

In Wisconsin, the mayor of Sun Prairie might not be getting too close to a groundhog again.

During a celebration Monday, the handler of Jimmy the groundhog held the animal next the face of Mayor Jonathan Freund, and Jimmy promptly bit down on the mayor's left ear.

Freund flinched, but went on with the event.

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