Groundhog Day takes on new meaning for some in 2021, as the last year may have felt like one long day or a rendition of Bill Murray’s 1993 “Groundhog Day” experience.
But according to Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog who scurried out around 7:25 a.m. Tuesday to predict the weather, the country is due for six more weeks of winter.
The Groundhog Day tradition took hold in the U.S. with Punxsutawney Phil’s 1887 prognostication, an offshoot of the Candlemas tradition, marking the midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox. In Germany, hedgehogs became a part of the tradition, making the first predictions for the winter. When German settlers came to the U.S., groundhogs became the tradition’s new mascot.
Part of the lore and allure of Pennsylvania’s tradition is Phil being the only true American groundhog prognosticator. But while Phil’s predictions may sometimes hold up in the Northeast, predicting the weather for the entire country is another task altogether, and some other states — with mammals such as groundhogs, nutrias, beavers and hedgehogs — take the annual prediction upon themselves.
In Georgia, the General Beauregard Lee, nicknamed “Beau,” is famous around the South for his accuracy, listed at 94% according to PolitiFact. Beau, one of Punxsutawney Phil’s strongest rivals, holds honorary doctorates from University of Georgia in weather prognostication and Southern groundology from Georgia State.
Woodstock, Illinois, where “Groundhog Day” was filmed, is home to Woodstock Willie, the local weather prognosticator, and the star of a weeklong festival in honor of the holiday. The prognostication in Woodstock is notably a reenactment of the 1993 film’s Groundhog Day ceremony.
In Louisiana, two nutrias — large semi-aquatic rodents — predict the changing season. Pierre C. Shadeaux of New Iberia is known as the area’s “Cajun Groundhog,” as the more traditional mammals are not native to the area. New Orleans is home to T-Boy, another nutria-turned weather prognosticator.
Western Maryland Murray is Maryland’s own groundhog star, making seasonal predictions since 2008. In Michigan, Woody the Woodchuck, another name for the mammal, is the designated prognosticator for the state, and one of the only female groundhogs appointed to the position. Essex Ed has been making weather predictions in New Jersey since 1997, extending his duties to making predictions for the Super Bowl winner each year as well.
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New York is home to at least four prognosticating groundhogs: Staten Island Chuck makes the official prediction for New York City, while Dunkirk Dave, Malverne Mel and Holtsville Hal make predictions throughout other parts of the state.
Sir Walter Wally of Raleigh, North Carolina, is the official prognosticator for that state and reportedly holds a better record of accuracy than Punxsutawney Phil. Buckeye Chuck is Ohio’s official state groundhog, based in Marion, but the city of Cleveland has its own hometown groundhog: Thistle the Whistlepig, a newcomer to the prognosticator scene.
Oregon is home to Fufu and Nancy the Hedgehogs, the more traditional prognosticator dating back to the practice’s German roots. But in 2020, Filbert the Beaver, also known as “Stumptown Fil,” made the annual prognostication in the Beaver State.
Chattanooga Chuck of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a groundhog whose prognostication is unique, delivered as a poem each year.
In West Virginia, French Creek Freddie is the go-to groundhog, with over 60% accuracy in his 43 years of service as the state’s prognosticator. And Sun Prairie, Wisconsin’s Jimmy the Groundhog has likewise been touted for his “extremely high accuracy rate,” according to the city’s website.
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