Famous ‘furry forecaster’ predicts more winter weather

Thousands braved the cold, rainy weather at Gobbler’s Knob in Punx­sutawney as early as 3 a.m. Sunday to witness the weather forecast of the “King of Groundhogs.”

At 7:28 a.m., the famous forecaster Punxsutawney Phil hesitantly came out of his burrow and saw his shadow despite the cloudy weather – an action that is traditionally interpreted to mean another six weeks of winter.

The prediction was formatted as a poem that referenced the fact that this year’s Groundhog Day celebration landed on the same day as Super Bowl Sunday: “A Super Bowl winner I will not predict, but my weather forecast you cannot contradict. Why that’s not a football but my shadow I see – it’s six more weeks of winter it must be.”

“Well, get your winter coats out, put ‘em back on, because today, tomorrow, the next day, what’s it going to be?” said Jeff Lundy, vice president of the Groundhog Day Inner Circle.

The crowd answered with a collec­tive response of both groans, boos and “winter.”

The Inner Circle plans the event and takes care of Phil, according to the Groundhog Day website.

About 20,000 to 25,000 people attended the event.

Entertainment began at around 3 a.m. and included music performed by The Beagle Brothers, of Pittsburgh; a firework show at 6:30 a.m.; and even a Ground­hog Day rendition of “What Does the Fox Say?” (“What Does Phil Say?”).

Indiana University of Pennsylva­nia student Charlotte Cornish (senior, communications media) said she arrived at Punxsutawney at about 4 a.m. on a “party bus” provided by Wolfie’s Pub & Club after the bar closed for the night.

“The event was super muddy, but I still had fun,” Cornish said. “I think Phil’s pre­diction isn’t going to be correct – and if it is, I’m not going to be a happy camper.”

But Groundhog Day is not solely a western Pennsylvania attraction.

“It’s a little crazy,” Anna Oneil, of Chattanooga, Tenn., said. Oneil at­tends Grove City University, which is about an hour and a half away from Punxsutawney.

Joanne and Jon Salontay, of Bruns­wick, Ohio, said this was their first Groundhog Day experience.

The couple traveled about three hours for the event.

“It was wonderful,” Joanne Salontay said. “We met 39 years ago on this day so we finally said, ‘We’re coming.’”

Jon Salontay said he was disappoint­ed by Phil’s weather prediction.

“I don’t see how he could see the shadow; I don’t see the sun in the sky,” he said. “But we’ll get through six weeks of winter, and before you know it, we’ll be complaining about the heat.”

The Salontays aren’t the first people to be disappointed by the weather fore­cast of Phil.

In 2013, Phil was indicted by a Butler County, Ohio, resident prosecu­tor with “misrepresenting spring,” ac­cording to a USA Today March 2013 article.

In previous years, Phil saw his shadow 100 times and did not see his shadow 17 times, according to a 2014 AccuWeather article.

Phil’s accuracy rate is at about 80 percent, according to AccuWeather.