Editorial: Phil spared, but so far, we're not

Mar. 25, 2013 @ 03:36 PM

Don’t fret just yet. The story was nothing more than tongue-in-cheek good fun.

Pennsylvanians will not be seeking the death penalty on the furry animal known for predicting the weather. By Monday, there was even talk of a pardon and the handler said he was taking blame.

Punxsutawney Phil’s record is up for debate, in no small measure because he’s in the Keystone State and everybody else is, well, wherever they may be.

It doesn’t take a teenager in a science fair to figure out the weather has very different patterns for very different areas of the country. Phil can no more predict the weather in Townsville, Hicksboro or Kittrell than he can in, well, Punxsutawney, Pa.

But it’s all in good fun. For the record, Phil didn’t fair too well on the home front either. Thus last week’s story, where an Ohio prosecutor filed a criminal indictment stating, “Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that spring would come early.”

Well it didn’t. Not in Pennsylvania, not in the Tri-County of northern central North Carolina, and not in a lot of other places.

Phil’s in a slump. Last year he went for more winter, and the temperature was soon up to 80 degrees. It’s tough being a groundhog, especially when you’ve got one day to shine — or not.

The trio of groundhogs trotted out for show and tell in the Old North State offered no great pride collectively, though one so far has hit the mark. That would be Sir Walter Wally at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, who saw his shadow Feb. 2 and forecast six more weeks of winter. By Saturday, we’ll have had eight, even though spring officially started last Wednesday and we might see some 60s through the Easter weekend.

Queen Charlotte said she didn’t see her shadow and an early spring was coming. Mortimer, from down in Garner not far from Wally, was said to have written the forecast predicting “one more little cold snap but that’s all. Spring is on the way.”

Well, it is on the way. But when it gets here is anybody’s guess — groundhogs included.