Citing career fatigue and the desire to sleep in, Punxsutawney Phil announced today he will delegate his annual weather prognostication to longtime Louisiana business associate Maringouin Mike.
“I’m proud to announce that Maringouin Mike will take center stage this year. Mike has many years experience in predicting weather patterns based on nothing more than the visibility of his own shadow. Let’s all join me in welcoming Mike back to this annual pagan ritual. And don’t wake me up anymore!” announced Phil from a pre-written statement before ducking back into his hole.
There had been complaints for many years that weather patterns in the north do not necessarily reflect the on-set of spring in the southern states. In reply to such criticism, in 1978 the Mystic Order of Groundhogs opened a regional office in southern Louisiana to address regional weather cycles. In 1993 Maringouin Mike joined the Maringouin, LA office and served as chief prognosticator for one year before an unfortunate set of circumstances led to his ouster.
In the early morning of February 2, 1994, as Mike was being dragged from his hole half asleep by a handler, he produced a firearm and fired, striking his handler in the hand. The handler fully recovered. However, Mike was sentenced to 3 years at a Louisiana work farm and 10 years probation, during which time he was prohibited from working in the weather field.
After his trial, Maringouin Mike was forcefully removed from the courtroom during sentencing screaming, “I ain’t got any idea how ya’ll Yankees do thangs up thar in Pennyvany, but ya go jus pullin’ folks out dere hole down heah and ya gonna get yar ass blown off!”
Mike was released after serving 18 months for good behavior and rejoined the Groundhogs’ regional office in 2017. Speaking from a porch he constructed around his hole last summer, Maringouin reassured the crowd that there would be no more such incidents as long as they knock discreetly then step back off the porch.
“I’ll come right out heah and tell ya’ll eveythang I know,” said Mike spitting tobacco off into the distance. Then, gesturing with his thumb towards his hole, he added, “But don’t go jus stickin’ ya hand in dere!”
In a related story, meteorologists are predicting another intense cold spell for later this week after yet another unseasonably balmy weekend. When back up groundhog Canandaigua Carl, Ph.D was asked if the recent weather pattern supports or disproves the concept of climate change, he replied via Twitter, “Who knows for sure? Until about 25 years ago we had crappy data."
Regarding the remainder of the season, Biff Winter could not be reached for comment.