Groundhog Day: Georgia’s famous ‘Beau’ predicts early spring

ATLANTA — It’s a very cold day in Georgia – but General Beauregard ‘Beau’ Lee has some good news for you: Spring is coming early.

Georgia’s famous critter didn’t see his shadow this morning for Groundhog’s Day.

Gen. Beauregard Lee was a celebrity groundhog for decades in Gwinnett County before he moved to Jackson last year. The current “Beau” is the “bachelor nephew” of the original Gen. Lee, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Lee’s new home at the Dauset Trails Nature Center posted video of his emergence from his home.

Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil came out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter.

Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan said so far, this winter has had above average temperatures. While we expect cold shots over the next few weeks leading into spring, the overall pattern is for near to above average temperatures for the rest of the winter.

“Near-to-above average temperatures for the last half of winter doesn’t mean we won’t have cold snaps or even the chance for snow. It means that more days than not will have above average temperatures,” Monahan said.

Here are some other things to know about Groundhog Day:

First celebration: The first Groundhog Day was celebrated at Gobbler’s Knob on Feb. 2, 1887. According to History.com, the idea came from Clymer Freas, a newspaper editor in Punxsutawney, who belonged to a group of groundhog hunters. His newspaper, The Punxsutawney Spirit, is credited with printing the news of the first observance in 1886, according to the website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

Origins: The day was originally known as Candlemas Day, which was the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It was celebrated in Europe, with Germans adopting a hedgehog to determine whether the rest of the winter would be bitter or mild. German settlers who came to Pennsylvania in the 18th century continued the tradition, substituting a groundhog.

Other predictors: What other rodents predict the weather on Feb. 2? Birmingham Bill, who prognosticates from the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama; and Staten Island Chuck in the New York metropolitan area. Not to be outdone, Canada has its own rodent, Shubenacadie Sam, who emerges from his burrow in Nova Scotia.

Information from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Cox Media Group content team contributed to this report.