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Groundhogs' forecasts differ

February 2, 2011

The world's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, predicted an early Spring when he did not see his shadow Wednesday morning.
Conversely, North Carolina's official groundhog saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter.
Sir Walter Wally's prediction at a ceremony just after noon Wednesday at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh runs counter to Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil.
Punxsutawney Phil emerged just after dawn on Groundhog Day to make his 125th annual weather forecast in front of a smaller-than-usual crowd who braved muddy, icy conditions to hear his handlers reveal that he had not seen his shadow.
Including Wednesday's forecast, Phil has seen his shadow 98 times and hasn't seen it just 16 times since 1887, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle, which runs the event. There are no records for the remaining years, though the group has never failed to issue a forecast.
In North Carolina, the State Climate Office says records show Sir Walter Wally has been right about 70 percent of the time in the past decade.
The groundhog saw his shadow last year, and temperatures for the next six weeks in Raleigh were nearly six degrees below normal.
Check out coverage in Pennsylvania delivered by The Observer News Enterprise's sister paper, The Punxsutawney Spirit, www.punxsutawneyspirit.com/content/no-shadow-early-spring.
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. If no shadow was seen, legend said spring would come early.
In reality, Pennsylvania's prophetic rodent doesn't see much of anything. The result is actually decided in advance by 14 members of the Inner Circle, who don tuxedos and top hats for the event.
The celebration usually draws 10,000 to 15,000 spectators when it falls on a weekday, Groundhog club spokesman Luke Webber said. The area was under a winter weather warning and while heavier snows and sleet never materialized, rain falling in about 35-degree temperatures made for a below-average crowd, said Webber, who offered no specific estimate.

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