February 2nd, 2012
12:54 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Punxsutawney Phil skeptics burrow through groundhog forecasts

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Wayne: "Punxsutawney Phil, wives and computers are never wrong."

Joe T.: "You forgot to add politicians and teenage children into that mix."

According to followers of the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, there are six weeks more of winter to come.  Phil saw his shadow Thursday morning, so it must be true. Readers talked about the relatively mild weather in their areas, the tradition of groundhog weather prognostication, and - cover your ears, Phil - even groundhog recipes.

More winter weather, Punxsutawney Phil predicts

Some people shared stories of comparable groundhog weather prognostication in their area.

charles Beale: "We have at least two groundhog predictors in Canada. Wiarton Willie in Ontario didn't see his shadow and so spring is just around the corner for us here 'up North.' "

Bob: "Phil is high. He can't see the evidence in front of his beady little eyes. Staten Island Chuck – now there's a varmint firmly grounded in reality."

Some wondered if modern technology is tainting the results.

Bobby: "I don't know how Phil could ever not see his shadow. With TV cameras and lights all over the place, any creature is bound to see his shadow ... unless he's facing the source(s) of the light. I think I read last year that, before this became so commercialized, Phil would see his shadow on sunny days. In Pennsylvania at this time of year, sunny days only reveal themselves on bitterly cold days. As the days warm toward spring, cloud cover would not allow Phil to see his shadow. Phil is the Great Meteorologist of PA, but he can't do it accurately with all of that infernal artificial lighting."

Others said probability and statistics don't support a correlation between Phil's shadow and the actual meteorological observations.

lisabones: "Actually, the groundhog's predictions are right 39% of the time, sooooo, we should believe the opposite!"

BOMBO ©: "The success rate is roughly 50/50. The same as flipping a coin. But apparently this is more 'fun.' "

kpjenk: "Kind of figured more winter would be the prediction. I find it funny that when you look at the past history of the predictions, every other year is an early spring and vice versa. Last year was early spring, therefore this year is more winter."

Others saw potential government waste at work.

Buck: "This is one of the biggest wastes of money. We keep complaining at this economy, yet we waste money on this. I would love to know how much is spent on this fiasco."

Joe T.: "Yes it really hurts the economy. Oh wait, you mean greatly helps the economy of Punxsutawney. I highly doubt much money is spent by anybody other than the city of Punsutawney and I doubt it's very much money to have this celebration in such a small town."

Coexist2011: "Get over it already! Life's really not that tough that you'd be totally rid of a sense of humor, or even indifference at the least. Why do we somehow tie every inconsequential event to the economy?"

Buck: "Hey Joe ... what about all the TV coverage, all the gas and jet fuel spent to get to the event, all the paper wasted to print news articles about the event, all the electricity wasted, all the human resources that could be better put to use? THINK!"

Some were just plain skeptical, but others said maybe there's a chance Phil is right.

RobCM: "How often is this over-size squirrel correct within the area where he lives?"

StClown: "Given that the vernal equinox is just a few days more than six weeks away, I'd say he's doing about as well any other long-term weather forecaster. It's just a hunch, though."

Marge: "Isn't it odd it is six more weeks til spring and Old Phil tells us it will be six more weeks til spring. What a prophet."

Some people are experiencing weird weather where they live.

elections are rigged: "Six more weeks of spring/fall-like conditions in the southeast. Farmers Almanac and the abundance of acorns on the ground said it should have been a colder than normal winter, but climate change said something else. Summer is going to be a rough one if this trend continues. Guess I need to adjust my garden planting times to adjust to the new milder 'winters.' "

Donald Reid: "Man, weird weather. I'm in Kansas and it's been like in the 60s the past three days. Yesterday was 35 at 6 a.m. By noon it was 60."

Cabal: "Oof, another 6 weeks of high 70s and low 80s? That is rough."

Hasher Iva: "I'm with you. I live in Florida and an additional 6 weeks of mid 70s and sunshine is just fine with me."

Karaya: "What winter weather? We haven't seen much winter at all this year here in New England, to much disappointment for all the winter sports fans."

Hooner: "He needs to move here – he wouldn't have seen his shadow thru all the fog."

These folks defended the groundhog.

Joe T.: "Why are people commenting here so against Groundhog Day? Why does it bother you so much? It brings it some much needed tourism to Punxsutawney. If you don't like it, you don't have to go to Punxsutawney or read news stories about it or watch it on the news. Let the people have their fun."

Thinker: "Because they are unhappy people who believe the only thing in life that matters is making money. Or they are jealous of others' happiness."

One gets the feeling some people would like to lead a groundhog's life.

Tman: "How is it unemployment is at 9% and this useless rat still has a job?"

Sean: "Affirmative action."

Humanist5683: "He makes $268 million a year, has a golden parachute, and his burrow looks like Trump’s NY apartment. He’s headed down to hang out with his GOP cronies right now, on a private plane he’s using as a corporate write-off."

One commenter wrote a poem:

Mark in PA:
"What winter?
It was 61 degrees yesterday here in PA.
There were moths fluttering around our door light!
Some of the tulips are tipping.
Punxsutawney Phil is trippin'."

Gobbler's Knob? No comment.

banasy ©: "It’s a cute and harmless tradition. ... If people are getting their weather information from a rodent, they have far bigger problems. ... I still like the name 'Gobbler’s Knob.' "

Something strange is going on, for this commenter.

CJP: "I might be losing my mind but this is the third morning in a row that I have woken up to find out that Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow and that we have three more weeks of winter! What's going on?"

Politics.

RinosRwinos: "I am a groundhog and saw my shadow so we are getting six more weeks of winter. Go Punxsutawney Phil! Let's hope we don't get six more weeks of GOP primaries."

Inner circle?

Marti: "The most interesting part of the article was where it described Inner Circle Presidency. ... What is this secret society and how (do) they control the weather thru wildlife?!?!?"

It's what's for dinner.

realtalker1: "Yeah right. Maybe in Pennsylvania. But where I'm from we haven't even had a freeze yet this year. Which is way out of whack. We usually have highs in the 30s for much of February. The weather reports highs in the 70s for the next 10 days and no changes expected beyond that. I've already seen some trees blooming. This is the dumbest groundhog I've ever heard of. I'm planting my vegetables next week."

Dave in DC: "Don't forget the mushrooms, I understand with a little red wine and shallots, it makes a great sauce for roasted groundhog."

You heard it here, folks. What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Animals • Overheard on CNN.com • Pennsylvania • U.S.
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. palintwit

    I saw my poop's shadow this morning and predicted Fox news would renew Sarah Palin's contract

    February 2, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sad Day

    ..a very sad day, when the news is made up of comments from CNNs website.... RIP Journalism, you had a good run.

    February 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Thanks for your comment. I totally get what you're saying; this isn't really a "news story" in the inverted pyramid sense. But this *is* a blog post intended to spark conversation about a topic in the news. I hope you'll stick around and follow along because our commenters have some neat things to say.

      February 2, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. chrissy

    hey bobcat, i would say not much! People were barbequeing tues. Very odd for the last day of january in michigan lmao!

    February 2, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JoyfulGypsy

    The absurdity of this tradition cracks up. :o) Poor Phil looks terrified and clueless before the ridiculous, roaring crowd – yet, oh, so cute.

    February 2, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jason

    Where's PETA's outrage!!

    February 2, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • PETA distractedly eating a baloney sandwich and reading an Archie comic

      ...hmm...wha – oh yeah, we're outraged. We're totally outraged, man.

      February 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. smartaz

    They need to fire Phil and hire a weatherman to help the unemployment numbers.

    February 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Good point but

      does the weatherman get hardship pay for the months he's locked in the den with no food?

      February 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jsb

    Can a groundhog that just popped out of a hole after several weeks/months see anything at all besides blinding light?

    February 2, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danny

      rofl

      February 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      This was a good comment, made even funnier by the fact that I misread the word "popped" at first.

      February 2, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Wes

    General Beauregard Lee did not see his shadow this morning, which means early spring for us here in Georgia. Of course It's felt like spring for 3 weeks now already.

    February 2, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. iamdeadlyserious

    It takes a special group of people to complain about the potential economic damage of a groundhog. Special.

    February 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. chrissy

    Ty nicole, he mustve been a little bit interested or he wouldnt have read it correct?

    February 2, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Danny

    -It's groundhog day... agian... it still only happens once a year?
    -why would anyone want to steal a groundhog... I can think of a couple reasons. Pervert
    -I betcha this holiday used to mean something. I bet you used to take him out of his cage anfd eat him... You people are hypocrites
    -Not bad for a quadriped... uh... don't drive angry... don't drive angry.... check you peripherals.... side of your eye... side of your eye

    February 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chrissy

    Danny? What ARE you talking about?

    February 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Danny

    The movie Groundhog Day!!! awesomeness

    February 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. leeintulsa

    congrats banasy and bombo. i suck

    February 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Oh come now, nobody sucks. Thanks for your comments as well. Eventually everyone will get up here, I bet.

      February 2, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      Lee, if I was running this page, there'd be a "best of leeintulsa" feature every Thursday.

      February 2, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      leeintulsa, you have provided me with hours of entertainment….you certainly do *not* suck…(unless you want to; that’s YOUR perogative….
      Listen to the wise sage, N.Saidi.

      February 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      BOMBO: ditto for you…

      February 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Phil

    Why did CNN edit the video the way they did? Why not just show the entire one minute thirty second ordeal, to fulfill the audience's drive for a real Punxsutawney experience on this most sacred of days- Groundhog Day. On behalf of all the Phil's of the world (and as a Canadian, who shuns Wiarton Willie) Happy Feb 2nd Everyone... F-U Phillip with 2 l's by the way.

    February 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
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