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Groundhog Day 2015: Conflicting forecasts and a bitten mayor

During the Groundhog Day festivities in Wisconsin, a city mayor got a bit too close to its ceremonial groundhog, receiving a nasty bite on the ear
Groundhog takes a nibble of Wisconsin mayor 00:42

Jimmy the Groundhog turns on the mayor

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. -- The mayor of Sun Prairie has learned a valuable lesson about one of his city's most famous critters.

You don't want to get too close to a groundhog.

During the Groundhogs Day celebration Monday in Sun Prairie, Jimmy's handler held the groundhog next to the face of Mayor Jonathan Freund and Jimmy promptly bit down on the mayor's ear.

Freund flinched, but went on with his declaration that there would be an early spring due to Jimmy's prognostication. CBS affiliate WISC-TV says the Groundhog Day celebration became even more precarious when Jimmy's handlers, Jerry and Maria Hahn, said the mayor had gotten it wrong and that there would be six more weeks of winter.

Then the city issued a statement which said only the mayor can translate Jimmy's prediction.

Punxsutawney Phil forecasts 6 more weeks of winter

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. -- The handlers of Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, said Monday the furry rodent has forecast six more weeks of winter.

Punxsutawney Phil sees shadow 00:31

Members of the top hat-wearing Inner Circle announced the "prediction" Monday morning.

A German legend has it that if a furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another six weeks. If not, spring comes early.

The forecast was also announced on Twitter, as was referenced in the official proclamation read by Jeff Lundy, the Fair Weatherman of the Inner Circle.

"Forecasts abound on the Internet, but, I, Punxsutawney Phil am still your best bet. Yes, a shadow I see, you can start to Twitter, hash tag: Six more weeks of winter!"

The forecast was delivered after a steady pre-dawn rain turned to snow as temperatures dropped from the high 30s to around freezing. They were forecast to keep dropping over much of the state, prompting the state Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit to 45 mph for many interstate highways which were already wet and expected to freeze or be covered with snow as the day wore on.

The rain kept some revelers away, with state police estimating the crowd at around 11,000, slightly smaller than in recent years when upward of 15,000 attended.

Staten Island Chuck calls for early spring

NEW YORK -- Phil's counterpart in New York City, Staten Island Chuck, delivered a conflicting message in calling for an early spring after not seeing his shadow.

Chuck emerged from his home at the Staten Island Zoo early Monday and took part in a new ceremony that didn't include being held by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Last year, in de Blasio's first time at the annual ceremony, the rodent slipped from his grasp and fell to the ground. It died weeks later.

A medical exam revealed it died of internal injuries, but zoo officials said it was unclear if they were caused by the fall from de Blasio's arms. Zoo officials didn't make the death public for months.

The story prompted a flood of Twitter jokes about a #Groundhoghazi cover-up and de Blasio's possible impeachment.

The accident became a source of teasing for the mayor, and de Blasio himself suggested Monday that "teams of animal behavior experts and scientists have consulted from all over the country" to keep the groundhog safe.

CBS New York reports that Long Island's Malverne Mel predicted six more weeks of winter.

Ga. groundhog Gen. Beauregard Lee 'predicts' early spring

LILBURN, Ga. -- The Georgia groundhog known as Gen. Beauregard Lee predicts an early spring in the South.

The Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn announced that the critter awoke Monday morning to a heavy overcast sky after an overnight rain. Game ranch officials say he didn't see his shadow, meaning an early spring.

In Pennsylvania, handlers of another groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, announced Monday that the Pennsylvania rodent has forecast six more weeks of winter.

Groundhog named for Bill Murray: 6 more weeks of winter

MARION TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- A Michigan groundhog named for the actor Bill Murray predicts six more weeks of winter.

Howell Conference and Nature Center officials say Murray - an 8-month-old female - rendered her forecast Monday morning after seeing her shadow. She was standing in for Woody the Woodchuck, the state's official groundhog recovering from a respiratory infection.

Spokeswoman April Gasbarre says at least a foot of fresh snow was on the ground at the Livingston County center, which made the prediction seem appropriate. Murray stayed in her house, which staff members interpret as a reluctance to emerge and see her shadow.

The not-so-scientific forecast comes after a storm dropped 1½ feet of snow over parts of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

The actor Bill Murray is known for movies including "Groundhog Day."

Ohio's forecasting groundhog predicts early spring

MARION, Ohio -- Ohio's weather-forecasting groundhog Buckeye Chuck predicts the state will see an early spring.

Buckeye Chuck did not see his shadow at 7:39 a.m. Monday, signaling that spring will come soon for Ohioans.

The Marion Star reports local officials say Chuck is accurate about 75 percent of the time. The groundhog has predicted an early spring in Ohio for five years in a row.

About 40 people attended Marion's Groundhog Day ceremony Monday in north-central Ohio amid snowy and cold conditions.

Legend has it that if the furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another month-and-a-half. If he doesn't see it, spring will come early.

Vegas area focuses on Mojave Max to signal start of spring

LAS VEGAS -- Pennsylvania has a groundhog. Southern Nevada has a desert tortoise.

Clark County officials are focusing Monday on a contest that guesses when the tortoise dubbed Mojave Max will emerge from his burrow to signal spring at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Max's debut is the subject of an annual guess-the-date contest now in its 16th year.

It lets Las Vegas-area schoolchildren try to predict when Max will emerge.

The earliest was in 2005, on Feb. 14.

The latest was in 2012, on April 17.

The tortoise nap is called brumation. That's the reptile form of hibernation.

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