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Thu, Oct 23, 2014

WOODY: Punxsutawney Phil needs new Doppler

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A Pittsburgh lawyer has suggested that Punxsutawney Phil, the famous weather-predicting groundhog, be given the death penalty for being wrong about his spring forecast.

Phil poked his head out on Groundhog Day and didn’t see his shadow, which according to lore meant an early spring.

However, when spring arrived it was snowing, and the attorney began filing paperwork against the rascally rodent.

We assume it’s all in good fun, but in these litigious times you never know.

We can see it now: the state of Pennsylvania vs. Punxsutawney Phil, also known as the Weather Pig.

The state is seeking undisclosed damages after several residents hopped out of bed on March 20, the first day of spring, and – based on the Weather Pig’s sunny forecast – went bounding outside expecting bluebirds and daffodils.

Instead, they slipped on icy porches and snowy sidewalks, suffering mental anguish, severe humiliation and assorted bruised and frozen buttocks.

It seems that nowadays everybody has to blame somebody for every bad thing that happens to them – even bad weather. Too cold, too hot? Sue somebody.

If I’m on the jury, I’ll find in favor of the groundhog.

As I understand it, Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t volunteer his services every Groundhog Day.

He is snoozing away, dreaming about carrots and clover, when suddenly he’s yanked out of his nice warm den by a bunch of guys wearing weird hats and held up before the TV cameras.

If he casts a shadow, that is supposed to be his forecast. If he  sees his shadow, there will be six weeks of bad weather. If there is no shadow, a mild, early spring.

But unless someone got it in writing, I don’t think it will stand up in court. I have never heard of any groundhog guarantees.

Besides, the Weather Pig is about as accurate as most of our local weather-persons. I spend a lot of time outdoors and I’ve learned not to put too much stock in their forecasts.

If they predict sunshine, I’m taking an umbrella and a life jacket.

If they call for rain, better pack the sunscreen.

What amazes me about meteorologists’ predictions is that they seldom agree.

If you watch four different TV weather forecasts, you will usually get four different predictions. One will predict rain, another no rain and two others will shrug and toss a coin.

I have never understood how trained, professional meteorologists, all equipped with the same radars, satellites, Dopplers and other advanced technology, can study the same weather data and reach such contrasting conclusions.

Maybe, they should dump the Doppler and try reading tea leaves and chicken bones.

If a baseball player had a weatherman’s batting average, he would be sent down on the next bus to podunk.

Yet, some expect a humble groundhog, unschooled, untutored and without the benefit of any fancy weather gadgets, to be able to accurately predict the weather six weeks in advance.

I say get off his furry back. He didn’t ask for the job.

Here’s my defense summation if the case of the misguided groundhog ever goes to trial: Your honor, please don’t kill the messenger. Free Phil.
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Groundhog Day, Larry Woody, Voices, Weather
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