A Canadian woodchuck cast a different type of shadow over “Groundhog Day” Thursday — just hours before he was due to predict spring’s arrival, Fred la Marmotte was found dead.
The groundhog showed “no vital signs” when the organizer of the annual February 2 tradition in Val-d’Espoir, Quebec tried to wake him from hibernation, local media reported.
If Fred had seen his shadow, then he would have quickly scurried back inside his burrow, a portent of six more weeks of winter.
No shadow would have meant Fred staying above ground, auguring an early spring.
But after some 40 minutes of festivities, including singing and dancing, organizer Roberto Blondin told waiting spectators that Fred had passed away.
He added that he thought the groundhog had died in late fall or early December, aged nine, CBC reported.
Undeterred, a child wearing a groundhog hat was called up to the stage, handed a stuffed toy groundhog and asked for his prediction. He forecast a lengthy winter.
Further south in Pennsylvania, another famous furry weather forecaster, Punxsutawney Phil, also predicted six more weeks of the cold season.
A number of towns in the United States and Canada celebrate “Groundhog Day,” but Punxsutawney Phil, named for his hometown, is the most celebrated of the rodent forecasters.
That is in large part due to the 1993 cult classic movie of the same name, featuring Bill Murray in which he wakes up and experiences the same day again and again.
Phil and his predecessors, also called Phil, have been forecasting since 1887.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tweeted that Phil has had a 40 percent accuracy rate over the past ten years.
In New York, the more optimistic Staten Island Chuck predicted an early spring for the eighth year in a row.
In 2014, then-mayor Bill de Blasio dropped one of Chuck’s predecessors during the city’s ceremony. It died a week later, prompting social media users to joke he had killed it.
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