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3 February 2011
PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pennsylvania -- Renowned local weather forecaster Punxsutawney Phil raised some frozen eyelashes Tuesday when he predicted an early spring in the midst of raging continent-wide blizzards. Though he ordinarily suggests six more weeks of winter, Phil stunned a small crowd of parka-clad, teeth-chattering tourists and reporters when he suggested they “take off their coats and stay a while.” An audible gasp was heard from the crowd, followed by a visible blanket of cold breath. To illustrate the collective opinion that an early spring appeared unlikely, some present raised certain fingers toward Mr. Phil to show how frozen they were; and a few astute observers noted that Mr. Phil did not appear inclined to remove his own coat.
Event organizers showed signs of distress the moment the forecast was announced. One allegedly whispered to Phil, “You sure you got that right? Look around. More winter, isn’t it?” – to which Phil, clearly annoyed, pointed to the ground and chattered, “See, no shadow.” This was not surprising since the entire sky was covered with stormclouds.
The organizers huddled together to discuss the potential credibility problem they would inevitably face should the forecast remain. They approached Phil and asked if, for the sake of the Punxsutawney tourist industry, he would change his answer. Phil stood shivering and firmly shook his head. It was made clear to him that the entire economy of Punxsutawney, including his dinner, depended on Groundhog Day, along with related media and merchandise. He hesitated at the mention of “dinner,” but ultimately remained steadfast, conveying a look of deep hurt along with a single tear that turned to ice the moment it left his eye. He then brought out weather graphs, a long list of computer data, a barometer and a weather vane. Using an icicle as a pointer, he attempted to justify his prediction, as the crowd watched in disbelief, shielding themselves from the onslaught of the February wind.
News of the forecast reached Washington simultaneously with a massive storm front and snowball pelting of Capitol Hill by Egyptian protesters. Within hours, majority leader Harry Reid issued a statement, which read, “We in the United States senate have had suspicions about Mr. Phil for decades. His accuracy rate has only been 39% since 1887. Furthermore, he only predicts an early spring 13% of the time. Why do so this year, when New Yorkers are digging themselves out of their igloo-esque homes and Texans are promising to the Good Lord they will “lighten up” in exchange for a few rays of sunshine?” Reid remained undeterred even when it was pointed out that Phil’s accuracy rate was slightly better than the average weather forecaster. “If we let large rodents mispredict the weather,” he stated, “what will they want next? Falsified records for the CIA? Superbowl predictions?”
When asked for further comment, Punxsutawney Phil avoided reporters, stating categorically that he was “off to pee now” and that he would “see you all next year.” This raised suspicions that in fact, Mr. Phil was headed to his burrow-hole to hibernate for the remainder of the “spring.”