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Groundhog Day 2018: Brace for 6 more weeks of winter

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The groundhog has spoken.

Onlookers gathered Friday morning at Gobbler’s Knob, nestled in the cozy town of Punxsutawney in western Pennsylvania, hoping the rodent’s annual forecast would mean an early spring.

Instead, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow after emerging from his temporary burrow atop the steps of the tourist attraction, predicting six more weeks of winter remain.

Whether or not to put any stock in that prediction is up to you. After all, as meteorologists are quick to point out, Groundhog Day is based entirely on superstition.

In fact, the holiday traces its roots back centuries to European people who believed the badger could tell them when to plant crops, according to TimeAndDate.com, a website that tracks holidays. 

When their ancestors later colonized Pennsylvania in the 1800s, the website noted, they soon learned badgers are hard to find. So in lieu of a badger, they placed their faith in the groundhog. 

Though the forecast was primitive at best, the American people kept that tradition and continue to celebrate it to this day. Groundhog Day even gave its name to a 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray.

So are you the superstitious sort? Or, maybe just a little 'stitious?

At any rate, it can’t hurt to be prepared. With Saturday expected to bring temperatures in the 50s in northeast Florida, you may want to keep those extra layers handy.

About the Author:

A Florida transplant with Midwest roots, Garrett Pelican is the digital executive producer for News4Jax.