National News

Wally says more winter, while Phil predicts early spring

Posted February 2, 2011

— The country's most famous groundhog predicted an early spring Wednesday, while the Triangle's own prognosticating groundhog called for another six weeks of winter.

Punxsutawney Phil emerged just after dawn on Groundhog Day to make his 125th annual weather forecast in front of a smaller-than-usual crowd in rural Pennsylvania 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.

Meanwhile, Sir Walter Wally came out shortly after noon outside the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh and saw his shadow, which means more winter weather in the coming weeks.

Wally has been accurate about 65 to 70 percent of the time, according to his handlers.

Sir Walter Wally Sir Walter Wally predicts more winter

Two years ago, Phil's forecast also acknowledged the Steelers' Super Bowl XLIII win the night before. This year, Sunday's game was mentioned in the forecast, but no winner was predicted between the Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, who meet in Dallas for Super Bowl XLV.

"The Steelers are going to the Super Bowl," Mike Johnson, vice president of the Inner Circle, said just before the forecast was read, drawing cheers from the clearly partisan crowd gathered on Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill in this borough of about 6,100 residents some 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

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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  • Nope Feb 3, 2011

    Wally - how stupid. Just like the acorn drop. Copying is lame.

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Feb 2, 2011

    the chief said tonight, after next week, probably no more cold air this winter.
    guess what, that means you won't see another flake Fish. Boo hoo.

  • whatdidusay Feb 2, 2011

    It will all depend upon the dreadful Global Warming effect

  • Sherlock Feb 2, 2011

    He did it to make those Northerns feel better after this storm.

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Feb 2, 2011

    "Groundhogs... just as accurate as human meteorologists"

    As accurate as wral's meteorologists for sure.

  • x Feb 2, 2011

    Wally is a Perdue hog. He probably likes Bob Etheridge, too.

  • RomneyRyan2012 Feb 2, 2011

    The lazy little fa*t was sleeping in!! I'd love one more good snow with a day off work (prefer a Mon or Fri) then bring on Spring!

  • The Deadhead Feb 2, 2011

    I guess "Wally" did not factor, in his prediction, the 68 F balmy temperature today.

  • Feb 2, 2011

    Yeah...well my ferret says we're all @#$%ed!

  • jscletsplay1002002 Feb 2, 2011

    Punxsutawney Phil emerged just after dawn .
    Meanwhile, Sir Walter Wally came out shortly after noon

    I know he wouldnt have seen his shadow if he would have gotten up when Phil did this morning, It was raining!!! We got a slacker!!!!!