Arrest warrant issued for Punxsutawney Phil

New Hampshire police searching for prognosticating groundhog amid mounting snow complaints

Arrest warrant issued for Punxsutawney Phil

Police in snow-smacked southern New Hampshire have issued an arrest warrant for Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog forecaster who saw his shadow earlier this month, leaving residents of the Granite State to brace for six more weeks of winter.

"We have received several complaints from the public that this little varmint is held up in a hole, warm and toasty," the Merrimack Police Department wrote on its Facebook page. "He told several people that Winter would last 6 more weeks, however he failed to disclose that it would consist of mountains of snow!"

Like most of the rest of New England, the town, located about 50 miles northwest of Boston, has been pummeled with snow and frigid temperatures over the last several weeks. Earlier this week, 13.5 inches of snow fell in Merrimack; another snowstorm is forecast for Thursday, with a blast of arctic air bringing strong winds and bitterly cold temperatures Friday through Sunday.

"Highs for most of the state may not climb out of the single digits this weekend," WMUR-TV said, "and wind-chill temperatures may stay below zero on Sunday and Monday."

Merrimack Police Chief Mark Doyle told the Associated Press that Phil, a Pennsylvania native, may be in Canada with Sasquatch. Others say they spotted the suspect in New Orleans.

"If you see him, do not approach him as he is armed and dangerous," the department's Facebook post added. "Call Merrimack Police, we will certainly take him into custody!"

It's not the first time Phil has run afoul of the law. In 2013, an Ohio prosecutor tired of a prolonged winter indicted the furry prognosticator for predicting an early spring.

“Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that Spring would come early,” Butler County Prosecutor Michael T. Gmoser wrote in his faux indictment.

But not everyone believes Phil is at fault this time around.

"Quite simply, Mr. Phil was asked to predict how much longer winter would last," Peggy Graves wrote on Facebook. "He correctly did so, thus fulfilling his legal obligations. He was not asked to predict details pertaining to the weather; therefore, he was under no legal obligation to provide any. In fact, based on my knowledge of his educational and professional background, detailed weather prediction is outside Mr. Phil's area of expertise, and it would have been highly irresponsible of him to attempt to predict the weather in such detail.

"Additionally, how Mr. Phil — or any other citizen — prepares his home for seasonal weather is his responsibility, no one else's," Graves continued. "It's hardly Mr. Phil's fault if others failed to prepare their homes adequately for winter. Mr. Phil is being railroaded by an envious mob."

"You have identified the wrong suspect," Judy Berezansky added. "Queen Elsa is behind this weather."