Groundhog, forecasters agree: six more weeks of winter

PUNXSUTAWNEY – The big rodent and the science guys are on the same page, and it isn’t good news if you hate cold, wet winter weather in Chester County.

As is a Pennsylvania tradition, Punxsutawney Phil — the groundhog — peeked out of his warren and saw his shadow, and apparently immediately returned to his burrow to binge-watch Netflix.

Meanwhile, AccuWeather, which is a tad more scientific, suggests that the long-term forecast calls for a cold, wet period possibly into late April, meteorologist Paul Pastelok said. Storms — including a potentially strong one next week — will bring rain, mostly to coastal areas, with snowfalls further to the west for much of the late winter season and into early spring. The lone bright spot: temperatures appear to be forecast a bit warmer than usual, with highs in the 40s predicted for most days through early March.

Meanwhile, for the 131st year, thousands gathered in the early morning bright sunshine to see Pennsylvania’s world-famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, who then predicted six more weeks of winter after seeing his shadow this morning in the Pennsylvania Wilds.  

According to holiday folklore, if the groundhog emerges in the early morning on February 2 and sees his shadow, six more weeks of wintry weather are expected. 

“Each February, the eyes of the world turn to Punxsutawney, a town of just 5,500 residents, that represents the charm and history of so many of our small towns across Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “In addition to Punxsutawney’s quirky appeal, this event spurs a tourism boost, adding $1 million to the region’s economy annually. Through this event, the local economy is stimulated significantly with vendors and shops experiencing increased sales and hotels lodging, restaurants, and other businesses in the hospitality industry accommodating high numbers of patrons.”

Groundhog Day, a popular tradition in the United States, has a long history, crossing centuries and different ethnic cultures. More recently, the annual Pennsylvania event that started with a small group of men known as the Inner Circle now attracts up to 30,000 visitors to Punxsutawney, Jefferson County, about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. 

“It is an honor to help share Punxsutawney Phil’s prognostication with the world,” said Groundhog Club Inner Circle President Bill Deeley. “For more than 130 years, Punxsutawney Phil has been the only true weather forecasting groundhog and he’s right 100 percent of the time, of course!”

Phil’s prediction is broadcast each year on which results in the largest single day of traffic to the website. In 2016, the website received more than 287,000 page views, a new record which is expected to be broken this year.

“Groundhog Day is a great way to introduce children to the excitement of weather forecasting,” said Janice Dean, Fox News meteorologist and the 2017 inductee into the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center’s Meteorologist Hall of Fame. “I hope the enthusiasm surrounding this morning’s prognostication inspires a future generation of meteorologists.”

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