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Groundhogs split on spring predictions

UPI News Service, 02/02/2013 

Spring will arrive soon, that famous furry forecaster, Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog in Pennsylvania, indicated Saturday.

Phil did not see his shadow during the annual Feb. 2 Groundhog Day ritual Saturday, CNN reported. Some residents of the groundhog's hometown, Punxsutawney, Pa., interpret that to mean warmer weather will soon arrive.

Phil's more urban cousin, Staten Island Chuck, agreed with that forecast. He didn't see his shadow either at his man cave at the Staten Island Zoo.

Lots of less prescient Americans may have been hoping for such an optimistic forecast. Unseasonably high temperatures in recent weeks have seesawed with extreme lows, causing folks to alternate between shorts and T-shirts to heavy coats and gloves.

Hollywood, Fla., held a copycat Groundhog Day, organized for the past nine years by Jeff Hasen, who lived in the Punxsutawney area for seven years, The Miami Herald reported.

A human wearing a groundhog suit cavorted on the beach at sunrise and predicted six more weeks of snowbird arrivals -- driven by cold temperatures to the north.

"It's all about having fun, just a great event for silly people," Hasen said.

Southern groundhogs, whether real or fake, appear to be more likely to forecast cold weather. Gen. Beauregard Lee, who lives on the Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn, Ga., predicted another six weeks of winter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said.

Temperatures in the area were in the 20s Saturday, unusual for Georgia.

Michigan's Woody the Groundhog agreed with her Pennsylvania colleague, WWJ-TV, Detroit, reported.

The state's official groundhog is a resident of Howell Nature Center in Livingston County, west of Detroit.

"Woody came out of her stump, went back in her stump and then came back out again, which tells us that we will have an early spring here in Michigan," said Dick Grant, the center's executive director.

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