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Georgia's groundhog predicts early spring
Georgia's official weather prognosticator General Beau Lee makes his annual prediction at the Yellow River Game Ranch on Groundhog day ,Monday, Feb. 2, 2009. Beau emerged from his mansion at 7:30 am and the prediction is Georgia will have an early spring. - photo by AP Photo/Journal Constitution,Vino Wong

LILBURN, GA — Georgia's groundhog, Gen. Beauregard Lee, has failed to see his shadow, predicting an early spring.

The Southern varmint's prediction differed early Monday from that of his famous Northern colleague, Punxsutawney Phil, who did see his shadow, meaning winter will last another six weeks.

Beau emerged from his mock-up antebellum mansion at the Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn about 7:30 a.m. under overcast skies and a temperature of 30 degrees. A small crowd, many waving pompoms, clapped and cheered.

Ranch officials say people began arriving at 5 a.m. to wait for the furry prognosticator to emerge.

No official records of Beau's forecasts have been kept, but his owner, Art Rilling, has said he's only missed once in his career.

That one miss was a biggie. Beau called for an early spring in 1993 and the worst blizzard in decades blasted the South.

According to an The Atlanta Journal Constitution analysis, Beau has been right 31 percent of the time in the last 15 years, compared to Phil's 50 percent. Rilling said Monday that estimation is "not even close to right."

Spring arrives March 20 this year on the vernal equinox.


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