Phil's fraud: The famous groundhog takes heat for the cold

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The gray skies and cold temperatures of March have led to endless complaints, and this week's snow showers prompted sighs of exasperation. But 10 days into Spring, the mercury is grudgingly rising and the sun is parting the daytime gloom.

With an uptick in the weather, Pittsburghers can stop making droll references to living the same bad day over and over again, as in the movie "Groundhog Day."

Speaking of groundhogs, Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania's supreme weather prognosticator, has taken a lot of heat for messing up the prediction about how much winter was left in 2013. Contrary to the varmint's assurances on Feb. 2, winter did not end early.

An Ohio prosecutor was so incensed by Phil's false prophecy that he filed a criminal indictment against the animal. In a gallant gesture, Punxsutawney Phil's handler on Gobbler's Knob stepped forward to say that the fault for the bad prediction was on him, not the critter. He said he misunderstood Phil's message. Ohio has since rescinded its indictment because a human agreed to take the blame.

Although Ohio may now be forgiving, Punxsutawney Phil isn't out of the woods yet. A police department in Montgomery, Md., just issued a poster with Phil's image under the banner, "Suspect Wanted for Fraud."

That's tough talk on Pennsylvania's famous underground dweller. Just to play it safe, Phil had better not venture below the Mason-Dixon line anytime soon -- at least until Spring is here to stay.



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