"It's true and it's unfortunate. I announce to you the death of Fred."
Having a groundhog predict the end of winter is a tradition shrouded in Pennslyvania Dutch superstition, which dates back hundreds of years.
And while science casts doubt on whether the lowland creatures are actually able to predict a late spring by seeing their own shadow, it's a comforting ritual.
Except in one tiny town in eastern Quebec, Canada, which had a little less luck this year. The province's own spring-predicting groundhog, lovingly nicknamed "Fred la marmotte" (groundhog in French), unexpectedly passed away before he was able to predict the remaining length of winter.
"As they say, in life, the only thing that's certain is that nothing is certain," the event's organizer Roberto Blondin said in a somber yet surprisingly dramatic announcement video, which has since gone viral.
"Well, this year it's true," he added. "It's true and it's unfortunate. I announce to you the death of Fred."
Not sure what this predicts but Quebec’s groundhog Fred la Marmotte has died.
It was somewhat of a surprise - they had a whole event leading up to his prediction only for his death to be announced. pic.twitter.com/u9XSNgse3Z
— Sarah Leavitt (@sarahleavittcbc) February 2, 2023
The creature, according to Blondin, likely passed away in the late fall or early December when it was still hibernating, the CBC reports.
"It was somewhat of a surprise — they had a whole event leading up to his prediction only for his death to be announced," the CBC's Sarah Leavitt tweeted.
The premature passing leaves a major question for meteorologists and groundhogs alike: when will Quebec experience its own spring?
The answer came courtesy of a child holding a stuffed groundhog toy at the event: six more weeks of winter — which is arguably only appropriate given the funereal circumstances.
Fortunately, for the rest of the continent, Fred is survived by a veritable army of weather-predicting groundhogs. In Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil — the most famous among them — saw his own shadow, also predicting six more weeks of winter.
Lucy the Lobster
It's not even just groundhogs that are predicting the weather. In Nova Scotia, Canada, a crustacean called Lucy the Lobster corroborated the prediction that we will have a least six more weeks of winter.
For now, Canada enters a day of mourning as the country recovers from the shock of hearing that Fred la marmotte has died.
"Canada lost a real one today," one Twitter user wrote. "Rip Fred. Your services will never be forgotten."
Updated to correctly refer to the hometown of Punxsutawney Phil.
READ MORE: Sudden death of Quebec's Fred la marmotte casts a shadow on Groundhog Day [CBC]
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