Groundhog Day 2014 is upon us at last, ladies and gentlemen.
Thousands braved winter weather conditions last night and this morning to be there in the Weather Capitol of the World, a.k.a. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
The occasion? That magical moment when Punxsutawney Phil emerges from Gobbler's Knob, and with the help of his handlers, answers the million-dollar question:
Will we have to endure six more weeks of snow, wind, ice cold before spring arrives? Or will our reprieve come sooner? Only Phil and his shadow can say with clarity.
And he has done so, just moments ago. The verdict:
SHADOW! Winter will continue!
Punxsutawney Phil, who emerged from his burrow moments ago to find conditions just bright enough to spot a shadow in Western Pa., has officially spoken.
The appearance of Phil’s shadow means winter will extend six more weeks, according to folklore. Had Phil seen his shadow, it would have come sooner.
He has now seen his shadow an even 100 times and not seen it just 17 times since 1887 (the math is off due to years of missing records, apparently).
So will the great prognosticator be vindicated by a February/March that match his outlook, unlike the "early spring" debacle that got him sued last year?
Debatable at best. But the accuracy of the venerable rodent meteorologist's prediction is secondary, of course, to the real purpose of Groundhog Day.
It's basically just a silly excuse to get out in the elements and submit to the wondrous power, mystery and majesty of nature (or just stay up all night drinking).
It's also the obligatory time of year that you get to recite Groundhog Day quotes. That movie seems to get more hilarious with each passing year somehow.
Finally, it's the first Groundhog Day EVER to fall on Super Bowl Sunday, so that's cool. The forecast for the big game? Overcast and in the 40s.