Groundhog predicts more winter for a country that just got a dose of it

Cardboard cutouts of spectators are seen during a socially distanced and remote event due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the 135th Groundhog Day at Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, U.S., February 2, 2021. REUTERS/Alan Freed

(Reuters) – Pennsylvania’s famous groundhog emerged from his tree stump on Tuesday to predict another six weeks of winter, just as the northeastern United States got blanketed with its second day of snow.

After a year-long pandemic in which every day seemed like the one before, not unlike the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day”, Punxsutawney Phil emerged at dawn, saw his shadow and decided to wait it out for another six weeks, his handlers said.

“Now, when I turn to see, there’s a perfect shadow cast of me, six more weeks of winter there will be,” said Jeff Lundy, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, the groundhog’s official interpreter.

Every Feb. 2 is known as Groundhog Day but the club’s annual ritual this year in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania – about 75 miles (121 km) northeast of Pittsburgh – was different than the 134 that came before because the thousands of spectators that usually attend were replaced by cardboard cutouts.

“Normally, there are thousands of you here with us helping us celebrate,” said Dan McGinley, aka Moonshine, one of the top-hatted and face-masked club members officiating at a spectacle that was held virtually this year.

“This year, a few of you did manage to sneak in – in replica form,” said McGinley. “Your avatars are our crowd. You look great.”

The groundhog’s winter prediction came amid more blizzard conditions following a major storm that had already dropped more than a foot of snow across the northeastern United States by Monday night and killed an elderly woman in Pennsylvania.

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