A crowd of several hundred gathered on Saturday to see General Beauregard Lee emerge.
Photo: Phil Skinner
Photo: Phil Skinner

Georgia’s famous groundhog predicts six more weeks of winter

On the coldest morning so far this season, Georgia’s resident weather-prognosticating groundhog, Gen. Beauregard Lee, emerged from his Gwinnett County lair only to be chased back inside by his shadow, declaring that we can expect another six weeks of winter.

Hundreds of fans of the famed rodent braved the 21-degree chill at Gwinnett County’s Yellow River Game Ranch to see the General make his prediction in person just after sunrise Saturday.

About 7:30 a.m., Lee’s handlers began ringing a bell to wake up the groundhog, and a few minutes later, the General made his anticipated appearance, looked around at the crowd for a couple of minutes and popped back into his white-columned home.

The news was more promising in Gobbler’s Knob, Pa., where that “Yankee” groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, failed to see his shadow.

According to weather lore, if the groundhog sees his shadow on Feb. 2, there will be six more weeks of winter. No shadow means that spring is just around the corner.

Scattered boos were heard as Lee made his unpopular prediction, but metro Atlantans really shouldn’t complain, as Saturday was only the 16th day so far this winter of below-normal temperatures.

The daily average has been above normal 28 days, with the average being more than 20 degrees above normal several times in January.

Temperatures were mostly in the low 20s across metro Atlanta early Saturday, only the fourth morning this winter when the mercury has dipped into the 20s.

Readings across the area included 21 in Lawrenceville, Alpharetta and Peachtree City, 22 in Dunwoody and 23 in Chamblee and Marietta.

Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brad Nitz said there’s a chance of snow flurries later in the day Saturday across extreme north Georgia.

A winter weather advisory was posted for a half-dozen mountain counties, calling for accumulations of up to an inch of snow, particularly at the higher elevations. The advisory goes into effect at noon, and runs through 7 a.m. Sunday.

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