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Groundhog round-up

Saturday was Groundhog Day - Marmot Day for Alaskans - and there were mixed results on whether to expect an early spring or a long winter. Here's the round-up, with Punxsutawney Phil viewed as the final say in groundhog predictions:

Posted: February 3, 2013 - 1:02am
Groundhog Club Co-handler John Griffiths, left, holds the weather predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil,  after he was taken from the stump before the club said Phil did not see his shadow and there will be an early spring on Groundhog Day, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, in Punxsutawney, Pa.   Keith Srakocic
Keith Srakocic
Groundhog Club Co-handler John Griffiths, left, holds the weather predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, after he was taken from the stump before the club said Phil did not see his shadow and there will be an early spring on Groundhog Day, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, in Punxsutawney, Pa.

W.VA.’S FRENCH CREEK FREDDIE PREDICTS EARLY SPRING

FRENCH CREEK, W.Va. — West Virginia’s French Creek Freddie is predicting an early spring.

WCHS-TV reports that Freddie didn’t see his shadow when he came out of his burrow Saturday morning at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in Upshur County.

That confirms the prediction of Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil. Phil didn’t his shadow when he emerged from his lair.

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. Legend says if no shadow is seen, spring will come early.

French Creek Freddie has been making his annual prediction since 1978.

GA. GROUNDHOG BEAUREGARD LEE PREDICTS LONG WINTER

LILBURN, Ga. — Georgia’s famed groundhog, Gen. Beauregard Lee, has spotted his shadow — indicating we’re in for a longer winter.

Lee woke to the ringing of an antique bell Saturday and waddled out of his home at the Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn. Ranch employee Mary Jackson says about 600 onlookers braved a frigid morning to await his Groundhog Day prediction.

Lore holds that if a groundhog sees its shadow on Feb. 2, winter will drag on for another six weeks. Gen. Lee’s handlers say he’s been proven right about 94 percent of the time.

Gen. Lee’s forecast for more chilly weather puts him at odds with his weather-predicting counterpart to the North — Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil.

Phil didn’t see his shadow Saturday, calling for an early spring.

BUCKEYE CHUCK SIGNALS SPRING COMING EARLY IN OHIO

MARION, Ohio — Ohio’s prognosticating groundhog says spring will come early to the state.

For the fourth year in the row, Buckeye Chuck sent a signal Saturday that spring will come soon for Ohioans. Buckeye Chuck did not see his shadow at 7:39 a.m.

According to the Mansfield News Journal, hundreds attended the festivities held at WMRN-AM in Marion in north-central Ohio.

In Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney (puhnk-suh-TAW’-nee) Phil has made his prediction. He also says expect an early spring.

RALEIGH AND CHARLOTTE GROUNDHOGS DISAGREE

RALEIGH, N.C. — Groundhogs in North Carolina’s two biggest cities disagree on the forecast for the next six weeks.

Sir Walter Wally in Raleigh saw his shadow around noon Saturday, predicting six more weeks of winter. But in Charlotte, Queen Charlotte didn’t see her shadow when she came out around 11:30 a.m., predicting an early spring.

Sir Walter Wally missed his prediction last year, while Queen Charlotte was on the money as temperatures in February and March of 2012 were well above normal in North Carolina.

Sir Walter Wally makes his predictions at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, while Queen Charlotte made her appearance at the Charlotte Nature Museum.

EARLY SPRING ACCORDING TO JIMMY, WYNTER GROUNDHOGS

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. — Wisconsin’s groundhog prognosticators say spring is right around the corner.

In Sun Prairie, Jimmy the Groundhog did not see his shadow Saturday morning, predicting an early spring. Jimmy’s handlers say the groundhog has an 80 percent accuracy rating. The Sun Prairie Fire Department escorted Jimmy to Cannery Square Plaza for the Groundhog Day event.

In Milwaukee, a groundhog named Wynter crawled cautiously from her indoor shelter at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Curator Alex Waier says a shadow means six more weeks of winter, no shadow means spring is on the way. The verdict? No shadow was spotted under overcast skies.

Waier says Wynter is also predicting the San Francisco 49ers by 10 over the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

SPLIT VERDICT FROM NY GROUNDHOGS ON SPRING

NEW YORK — New York’s groundhogs are sending mixed messages about whether or not the region should expect six more weeks of winter.

In New York City, elected officials including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn gathered at the Staten Island Zoo Saturday morning for Groundhog Day festivities starring Staten Island Chuck.

The animal crawled out of his cottage and was not frightened back inside by his shadow. That means spring is on the way.

But on Long Island, groundhog Malverne Mel did see his shadow. That means more winter.

Malverne Mayor Patricia McDonald presided at the ceremony at a gazebo near the train station. Most people in the crowd booed except for one little girl who jumped up and down saying that she loved winter.

PA.’S PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL PREDICTS EARLY SPRING

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. — An end to winter’s bitter cold will come soon, according to Pennsylvania’s famous groundhog.

Following a recent stretch of weather that’s included temperatures well below freezing as well as record warmth, tornadoes in the South and Midwest and torrential rains in the mid-Atlantic, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his lair Saturday in front of thousands but didn’t see his shadow.

Legend has it that if the furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2 on Gobbler’s Knob in west-central Pennsylvania, winter will last six more weeks. But if he doesn’t see his shadow, spring will come early.

The prediction is made during a ceremony overseen by a group called the Inner Circle. Members don top hats and tuxedos for the ceremony on Groundhog Day each year.

Bill Deeley, president of the Inner Circle, says that after “consulting” with Phil, he makes the call in deciphering what the world’s Punxsutawney Phil has to say about the weather.

Phil is known as the “seer of seers” and “sage of sages.” Organizers predicted about 20,000 people this weekend, a larger-than-normal crowd because Groundhog Day falls on a weekend this year.

“I just hope he’s right and we get warmer weather soon,” said Mike McKown, 45, an X-ray technician who drove up from Lynchburg, Va., with his mother.

Phil’s got company in the forecasting department. There’s Staten Island Chuck, in New York; General Beauregard Lee, in Atlanta; and Wiarton Willie, in Wiarton, Ontario, among others noted by the National Climactic Data Center “Groundhog Day” Web page.

“Punxsutawney can’t keep something this big to itself,” the Data Center said. “Other prognosticating rodents are popping up to claim a piece of the action.”

Phil is the original — and the best, Punxsutawney partisans insist.

The 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray brought even more notoriety to the Pennsylvania party. The record attendance was about 30,000 the year after the movie’s release, said Katie Donald, executive director of the Groundhog Club. About 13,000 attend if Feb. 2 falls on a weekday.

Phil’s predictions, of course, are not always right on. Last year, for example, he told people to prepare for six more weeks of winter, a minority opinion among his groundhog brethren. The Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University later listed that January to June as the warmest seven-month period since systematic records began being kept in 1895.

“We’ll just mark it up as a mistake last year. He’ll be correct this year,” McKown said hopefully.

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