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What did General Beauregard Lee and Punxsutawney Phil predict?

Groundhog Day is based on the holiday Candlemas. German settlers brought it to North America where it is celebrated today with a weather-predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.

Groundhog Day is steeped in tradition but isn’t the most accurate, according to weather almanacs

On Feb. 2, we celebrate the turn of the seasons with a groundhog’s weather report based on his shadow (or lack of one).

Groundhog Day is celebrated in many locations around the U.S. The biggest ceremony takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Georgia has its own groundhog meteorologist as well. Gen. Beauregard Lee lives in Dauset Trails Nature Center in Jackson.

General Beauregard Lee is Georgia’s star rodent for the annual Groundhog Day prediction. 
General Beauregard Lee is Georgia’s star rodent for the annual Groundhog Day prediction. 

At sunrise Feb. 2, groundhogs left their winter homes to check their shadow. If sunny skies mean that a groundhog’s shadow is observable, six more weeks of winter are in store. If cloudy skies prevent the shadow from being seen, spring is just around the corner.

»RELATED: What to know about Gwinnett celebrity groundhog Gen. Beauregard Lee

The holiday is loosely based on the Christian holiday of Candlemas, when Christians would bring candles to church to receive a blessing for the remainder of winter. Those who observed the holiday thought that if the Candlemas was fair, winter would stay. Alternatively, if Candlemas was cloudy or rainy, then spring was soon to come.

Thosaunds are in Pennsylvania to see Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, make his prediction on Feb. 2. Police estimated 11,000 gathered in 2015 when this photo was taken.
Thosaunds are in Pennsylvania to see Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, make his prediction on Feb. 2. Police estimated 11,000 gathered in 2015 when this photo was taken.

Credit: Gene J. Puskar

Credit: Gene J. Puskar

Germany introduced animals to the legend and then brought the tradition to America. Originally the German legend had that a badger would see his shadow and predict a long winter. Nowadays, Americans use groundhogs.

Punxsutawney has observed Groundhog Day since 1886, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The city hosts a groundhog named Phil, who looks for his shadow in an annual sunrise celebration. Thousands travel to the city to watch Phil hopefully predict warm weather on the horizon. On Sunday, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, predicting an early spring.

Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 131st celebration of Groundhog Day.
Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 131st celebration of Groundhog Day.

Don't count on a groundhog for the official report, though. Punxsutawney Phil has been correct 39% of the time, according to StormFax Almanac weather data.

"Even though Phil's predictions proved correct for some areas of the country, the difference in average temperatures between years he predicted an early spring (times he did not see his shadow) and years he did not (times he saw his shadow) varied by no more than a few degrees." — The Washington Post

Georgia's Gen. Beauregard Lee may be more accurate, boasting a 60% accuracy, according to Politifact.

On Sunday, General Lee saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter.