West Virginia State Wildlife Center's French Creek Freddie awoke from his winter slumber Thursday morning and did not see his shadow, meaning spring is just around the corner.
Freddie's weather prediction means area residents can look forward to an early spring, rather than six more weeks of winter.
"I can't vouch for other areas, but French Creek Freddie does his job for Appalachia and central West Virginia," said wildlife biologist Gene Thorn in regard to Freddie's weather announcement.
West Virginia State Wildlife Center employee Gary Hissam holds French Creek Freddie after announcing Freddie did not see his shadow Thursday, meaning a quick end to winter. (The Inter-Mountain photo by John Clise)
As the legend goes, if it is cloudy when the groundhog emerges from its burrow on Groundhog Day, then spring will come early. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.
With more than 200 people in attendance, Freddie made his 2012 debut with Wildlife Center employee Gary Hissam, who raised Freddie from just a pup over the past year.
Thorn said this year's Freddie is another in a long line of groundhogs that have made their Groundhog Day predictions over the years. French Creek Freddie has undertaken his annual ritual at the Wildlife Center since 1978.