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Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil makes bold weather call

It may be hard to believe as a large swath of the US thaws out from a bitter polar vortex, but spring is coming early, according to handlers for some of the country’s most famous prognosticating groundhogs.

Just before 7:30am (11:30pm AEDT) Saturday, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow in Pennsylvania at sunrise and didn’t see his shadow.

media_cameraDetail view on the door of Punxsutawney Phill’s hutch before ceremonies for Groundhog Day. Picture: Getty

Nearly the same series of events unfolded about 483 kilometres to the east, where Staten Island Chuck’s handlers also revealed the same prediction.

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

media_cameraGroundhog Club co-handler John Griffiths, left, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 133rd celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney. Picture: AP

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 105 kilometres northeast of Pittsburgh.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio stopped attending Staten Island’s Groundhog Day ceremony in 2015, a year after he accidentally dropped the furry critter that died a week later.

media_cameraPunxsutawney Phil is held up by his handler for the crowd to see during the ceremonies for Groundhog day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Picture: Getty

And he wasn’t the only New York City mayor who struggled with the holiday. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was bit at a Groundhog Day ceremony in 2009.

Originally published as Groundhog makes bold weather call

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