Early spring or more winter? Georgia groundhogs make their 2024 predictions

JACKSON, Ga. — It’s Groundhog Day. Again.

While most eyes are on Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania, Gen. Beauregard “Beau” Lee is the go-to groundhog here in Georgia.

Will it be six more weeks of winter or an early spring? Well, Beau did not see his shadow, which means he’s betting on an early spring.

Lee was a celebrity groundhog for decades in Gwinnett County before he moved to Jackson.

What some Georgians may not know is there is a second groundhog prognosticator: Yonah the North Georgia Groundhog in Cleveland, Georgia.

Yonah is new to the groundhog game. Yonah made its first prediction of an early spring in 2020 at the North Georgia Wildlife Park. Yonah’s prediction will be made shortly as well.


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.

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