Does Arizona have its own version of Punxsutawney Phil?

Friday marks Groundhog Day, a holiday born from an old Dutch superstition that says a groundhog's emergence from its burrow is said to foretell the weather for the following six weeks.

Since sunny Arizona sees vastly different weather than Pennsylvannia, you may wonder if Arizona has its own take on Groundhog Day. Well, on Facebook rattlesnake Agua Fria Freddie offers a unique Arizona perspective.

As the story goes, if Punxsutawney Phil comes out of its burrow on this day and sees its shadow, winter will go on for six more weeks; if it does not see its shadow, spring will arrive early. This year, Phil did not see his shadow, so spring is coming.

On Friday morning, the Facebook page posted that Agua Fria Freddie saw his shadowing, predicting six more weeks of winter.

In 2023, Agua Fria Freddie saw his shadow, which meant the end of winter for the Grand Canyon State. In 2022, the Facebook account posted that Punxsutawney Phil declared there were six more weeks of winter. Agua Fria Freddie responded, "LOL. Okay..."

Although Punxsutawney Phil's predictions are almost always wrong, Groundhog Day remains a popular event each year.

Did the groundhog see his shadow? See results of Punxsutawney Phil's 2024 winter forecast

What is Groundhog Day?

The groundhog comes out of hibernation on Feb. 2. If the groundhog sees its shadow, it is said there will be six more weeks of winter left. If he does not see his shadow, it means spring will come early.

The first Groundhog's Day was celebrated on Feb. 2, 1887, at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney and has roots in the Christian tradition of Candlemas where a clergy would bless and distribute candles for winter. The candles would represent how long and cold the winter would be. Germans later on used the hedgehog to predict the tradition. German settlers in America continued the tradition with groundhogs, which were more plentiful.

What did the groundhog predict?

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow at the Friday morning event in Gobbler's Knob. According to tradition, that means an early spring is coming.

Phil last predicted an early spring in 2020; it is only the 21st time since records were kept.

When is Groundhog Day 2024?

Groundhog Day occurs annually on Feb. 2. This year, Groundhog Day is on Friday.

Groundhog Day is not a federal holiday, so banks, mail and trash services, schools, federal offices, local governments, libraries and stock markets will be open.

Are there groundhogs in Arizona?

Arizona does not have groundhogs as part of its desert ecosystem.

However, the state does have prairie dogs, which are grassland squirrels found in the Western U.S. and Mexico. Prairie dogs do not hibernate but may stay underground in bad weather.

Are there other animal forecasters?

Phil and Freddie aren't the only animal meteorologists. Critters ranging from an armadillo to a rattlesnake are expected to predict the weather this February.

Here are some of the other animal forecasters:

  • Alabama's Smith Lake Jake (groundhog).

  • Alabama's Sand Mountain Sam (possum).

  • Georgia's Gen. Beauregard Lee (groundhog).

  • Lousiana's Cajun Groundhog (groundhog).

  • New York's Staten Islan Chuck (groundhog).

  • North Carolina's Sir Walter Wally (groundhog).

  • Ohio's Buckeye Chuck (groundhog).

  • Texas' Bee Cave Bob (armadillo).

  • West Virginia's French Creek Freddie (groundhog).

  • Wisconsin's Jimmy (groundhog).

Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Haadiza Ogwude contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Does Arizona have its own version of Punxsutawney Phil?