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Groundhog Day Spotlights America's Favorite Weather Animal

The handlers of Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog are set to announce whether the rodent will predict an early spring or six more weeks of winter.
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Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog on Thursday morning saw his shadow.

According to legend, that means there will be six more weeks of winter.

Members of Punxsutawney Phil's top hat-wearing inner circle revealed their forecast at sunrise, just before 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

The well-dressed handlers brought the meteorological rodent out as the crowd chanted, "Phil, Phil, Phil, Phil!"

As they held him up to the crowd — one woman shouted “We love you Phil!”

But the love died down as they read out loud the "proclamation" purportedly dictated by the groundhog.

"A perfect clear shadow of me, six more weeks of winter it shall be," Phil decreed.

The festivities have their origin in a German legend that says if a furry rodent casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter continues. If not, spring comes early.

In reality, Phil's prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney. That's about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Records dating to 1887 show Phil predicting more winter 102 times while forecasting an early spring just 18 times — including last year. There are no records for the remaining years.

Image: John Griffiths
Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 2.Gene J. Puskar / AP