PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. -- According to the 2010 Farmers' Almanac, this winter will see rough and frigid conditions where temperatures will average below normal for about three-quarters of the nation.
Significant snowfalls are also forecast for parts of nearly every zone. In the Middle Atlantic and Northeast States, a major snowfall in mid-February is expected -- possibly even blizzard conditions for New England.
For the myriad citizens likely to be affected by these adverse weather conditions, a great deal of hope was placed on promises of an early spring this morning from Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who emerges from his den each February 2 to predict the length of winter.
But as 12,000 freezing people gathered before dawn in western Pennsylvania, the world's most famous groundhog saw his shadow and delivered the bad news that winter will last another six weeks.
The annual event, normally an excuse for revelry and honoring the kitsch traditions of the region's European settlers, turned ugly immediately after the rodent's prediction.
Millions of Americans this year are without work or the income necessary to provide for adequate heat, shelter and provisions during what promises to be a harsh winter. As the flowing tears turned quickly to fear and anger, mobs of newly disadvantaged Americans charged the groundhog and tore him apart. Some pulled scraps from the carcass to use for food. Others wrote obscenities on nearby buildings using the animal's blood. And one couple pushed the groundhog's decapitated head onto a wooden spike to parade about the crowd in effigy.
Organizers say that in this history of Groundhog's Day such violence has never been witnessed. They are planning to cancel all future events indefinitely.