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Early spring to relieve US after polar vortex, Groundhog Day's Punxsutawney Phil predicts

The annual event has heralded an early spring.

Groundhog Club co-handler John Griffiths, left, holds Punxsutawney Phil
Groundhog Club co-handler John Griffiths, left, holds Punxsutawney Phil
Image: Gene J. Puskar/PA Images

IT MAY BE hard to believe as a large swathe 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 7.30 a.m. this morning, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow in Pennsylvania at sunrise and didn’t see his shadow.

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 2 February, winter continues. If not, spring comes early.

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.

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

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