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Groundhog Day's Early Spring Prediction is No News in Balmy New York

By DNAinfo Staff on February 2, 2012 6:18am

By Nicholas Rizzi, Trevor Kapp and Tuan Nguyen

DNAinfo Staff

MANHATTAN — The groundhog's prediction is a little late this year.

Staten Island Chuck promised an early spring Thursday, even as his Pennsylvania buddy Punxsutawney Phil saw winter stretching another six weeks.

"We've been lucky this year," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who participated in the annual tradition at the Staten Island Zoo. "Very little snow."

The mayor got through the festivities without injury — not like in 2009, when Chuck took a bite of his finger.

"If I get bit again," the mayor said before picking up Chuck, "I have actually promised my girlfriend I would bite back."

Kenneth Mitchell, executive director of the zoo, said Chuck is right 80 percent of the time.

"Chuck is extremely accurate," he said. "I think it's a good record."

Regardless of Chuck's prediction, New Yorkers thought groundhog day was much ado about nothing — what with the city basking in temperatures that topped 60 degrees Wednesday.

“It really doesn’t matter,” said cab driver Sampson Brewu, 58, from the Bronx, of the critter's annual weather forecast on Feb. 2.

“It’s warm now, and winter’s almost over anyway. This is so nice.”

Elizabeth Guerra, of East Harlem, said the weather reminded her of her native country.

“It feels like I’m back in Trinidad,” said Guerra, 48, who was wearing a light jacket as she waited for a subway in Midtown.

“Hopefully he sees his shadow, but I love this. I don’t want any snow.”

Tradition says that if the groundhog sees his own shadow, winter will last another six weeks. Phil saw his shadow, but Staten Island's groundhog Chuck didn't.

New York is already close to record warm temperatures. Wednesday's high of 61 was just six degrees off the record high set on Feb. 1, 1989, according to the National Weather Service.

Thursday is expected to be mostly cloudy with the high reaching 47 degrees.

Sophia Wallace, an artist from Sunset Park, Brooklyn, said she’s happy to shed some extra layers during the unseasonably warm winter. But she can’t help but think about the bigger picture.

“It’s a little concerning about global warming,” said the 33-year-old. “It’s hard to relax when you know the weather is nice for the wrong reasons.”

Fanny Diaz, 32, a banker from the Financial District, said she’s thrilled February feels more like May.

“I don’t care about the groundhog,” she said.