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Not a shadow of doubt: Phil says winter isn't over

Brrrrr! The world's most famous groundhog saw his shadow at dawn Monday. If you're a believer in ancient folklore or just like to party, the message is the same: six more weeks of ice and snow.

The prediction prompted boos from the crowd of at least 15,000 that had been whooping it up for much of the night in a patch of central Pennsylvania woods."As El Nino approaches our western shore and changes the weather patterns, I see my shadow. There will be six more weeks of winter," said Bill Cooper, president of the Inner Circle of Punxsutawney's Groundhog Club, speaking for the pudgy woodchuck after pulling him from his artificial tree stump.

Hours before Punxsutawney Phil made his 112th forecast, the crowd - including many students with the day off from Punxsutawney High School - whooped, hollered, danced to disco music and huddled around bonfires at Gobbler's Knob, a wooded hill at the south end of town.

Thomas Jobe, 20, was one of the early arrivers with two friends, 17-year-old Amanda Wazelle and 15-year-old Dawn Williams. Jobe said the three Punxsutawney residents come every year, because "it's the only thing that happens here."

Legend has it that winter will last six more weeks if the groundhog sees his shadow. If not, spring is right around the corner.

With Monday's prediction, Phil has seen his shadow 100 times in 112 years. Records from the National Climactic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., show his accuracy rate since 1980 is only about 59 percent.

The Groundhog Day tradition is rooted in a German superstition that if an animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2 - the Christian holiday of Candlemas - bad weather is coming.

In reality, the 15 members of the Inner Circle, who plan annual Groundhog Day festivities, decide in advance whether Phil will see his shadow, rain or shine. Inner Circle members also say they translate the prediction from Phil's native language, "Groundhogese."