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Groundhog Day: Fred is dead in Quebec, Willie and Sam at odds over spring’s arrival

Tragedy and discord reigns in the world of rodent winter weather forecasting

In what will likely be heralded as a bleak Groundhog Day prognostication, one of Canada’s most famous rodents died before he was set to make his prediction about spring’s arrival.

Organizers in Quebec broke the news this morning to the crowd gathered in Val d’Espoir, saying nine-year-old Fred la Marmotte had been found dead the night before.

In Fred’s place, organizers pulled a stuffed toy groundhog from a miniature wooded hut and handed it to a child who called for six more weeks of winter.

Among the groundhogs who made an appearance on the decisive day, predictions were split.

Ontario’s Wiarton Willie called for an early spring while Shubenacadie Sam, Nova Scotia’s most famous groundhog, apparently saw her shadow this morning as she emerged from a snow-covered enclosure at a wildlife park north of Halifax.

According to folklore, if a groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day, winter will drag on. However, if it doesn’t spot its shadow, spring-like weather will soon arrive.

RELATED: Groundhog Day: Shubenacadie Sam, Wiarton Willie disagree on weather forecast