Punxsutawney Phil sees shadow _ six more weeks of winter

Friday, February 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) _ With temperatures just below freezing, flurries falling and lingering snow crunching underfoot, Punxsutawney Phil _ the world's most famous groundhog _ saw his shadow Friday morning.

According to legend, that means winter will stick around for six more weeks. In the past 155 years, Phil has seen his shadow 101 times.

The prospect of six more weeks of winter wasn't welcome news to Miriam Wise, 11.

``I want spring so I can go barefoot and start planting,'' Miriam said as she walked along a downtown street toward the library which is the makeshift zoo for the groundhog.

Bill Cooper, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle, was charged with interpreting Phil's predictions. He interpreted Phil's squeaks and body language after the groundhog exited from his hole.

``Groundhogese is like no other language. I can just take a look at his expression and tell,'' Cooper said. ``He decides. I just interpret what he sees.''

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.

The Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce was expecting 15,000 to 20,000 visitors to join Phil in town, more than the 10,000 to 12,000 who arrived last year.