Holtsville Hal bucks groundhog trend

Malverne Mel did not see his shadow and Malverne Mel did not see his shadow and predicted an early spring, Wednesday, in Malverne, (Feb. 2, 2011) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Suffolk County's groundhog has a message for Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous of his brethren: Not so fast, my furry friend.

Six more weeks of winter are coming, says Holtsville Hal, unafraid to challenge conventional groundhog wisdom.

After a post-Christmas blizzard, record snowfall in January and an ice storm coating cars and roads Wednesday, Hal's prediction wasn't what Long Islanders wanted to hear.

"Sorry, folks," said John Rouse, Brookhaven superintendent of highways, told a crowd of two or three dozen at the Town of Brookhaven Ecology Site, Park & Animal Preserve.

Reading an official proclamation, he said, "Spring is not near. Winter will stick around, like the snow on the ground," he said. Hal saw his shadow at the annual event, signaling at least six more weeks of cold, wintry weather.

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But his rivals among weather-predicting Marmota monax, Nassau County's Malverne Mel and the granddaddy of all prognosticative groundhogs, Punxsutawney Phil, disagree. Phil did not see his shadow Wednesday in the Pennsylvania town that shares his name, translating to an early spring.The village of Malverne canceled Mel's public appearance because of ice, but still announced his grand prediction inside Village Hall.

"He did phone us to tell us it would be an early spring," quipped Malverne Mayor Patricia Norris-McDonald.

Staten Island Chuck, by the way, agreed with Mel and Phil.

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