Long Island Groundhogs Disagree on Spring’s Arrival

Malverne Mel (Courtsey of Malverne Mel’s Facebook fan page)
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Malverne Mel (Courtsey of Malverne Mel's Facebook fan page)

Groundhog Day kicked off Thursday, with mixed “predictions” from Long Island’s two favorite groundhogs.

Predicting an early spring was Suffolk County’s groundhog, Holtsville Hal. He was feeling a little more optimistic than last year when he predicted a longer winter. The groundhog “missed” his shadow early Thursday morning at the Wildlife & Ecology Center in Holtsville while spectators cheered on the coming spring.

A Wildlife & Ecology Center employee noted that the four-year-old groundhog’s prediction accuracy is 42 percent.

Nassau County’s groundhog wasn’t so ready for spring, however. Malverne Mel saw his shadow, meaning six more weeks of winter.

Just to complicate things, New York City’s famous groundhog, Staten Island Chuck, agreed with Hal that winter won’t last too much longer. Chuck, whose real name is Charles G. Hogg, made his prognostication at the Staten Island Zoo with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The nation’s top groundhog, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, sided with Mel again this year in the opinion that the winter will endure. Phil , who started the 125-year-old tradition, reportedly caught a glimpse of his shadow Thursday morning too.

According to CBS, the groundhog made his “prediction” on Gobbler’s Knob, a hill in the town of Punxsutawney with spectators including Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett looking on.

The Long Island groundhogs have been at odds for some years now.

Last year, Mel’s prediction came later than planned due to an ice storm hitting the area on Groundhog Day 2011. Still, the bad weather didn’t stop the seemingly optimistic groundhog from predicting an early spring that day. On the other hand, Hal predicted a long winter.

The holiday stems from a German superstition that says if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2, Christian holiday of Candlemas, winter will last another six weeks. Legend says spring will come early.