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Famed New Jersey groundhog meteorologist Milltown Mel dies just before Groundhog Day

This year’s Groundhog Day festivity in Milltown, New Jersey, is canceled, according to Milltown Mel's Facebook post.
Syndication: Courier News
Milltown Mel during Groundhog Day festivities in 2020.Alexander Lewis / USA Today Network

Milltown Mel, one of New Jersey's weather-predicting groundhogs, died Sunday — just days before the big annual ceremony.

His death was announced on the groundhog's official Facebook page. It wasn't immediately clear how the groundhog died.

This year's Groundhog Day festivity in Milltown, New Jersey, is canceled, according to the Facebook post.

"We Wranglers are sad to report that Milltown Mel recently crossed over the rainbow bridge," the Facebook post said. "Mel left us at a tough time of year, when most of his fellow groundhogs are no babies will be available to replace him until this Spring. We tried everywhere to get a stand-in, but to no avail!"

Milltown Mel's tradition was started by Jerry and Kathy Guthlein "and has continued for 10 years," according to Milltown's website. "On February 2 of every year, Milltown Mel predicts whether we will see an end to winter or another six weeks of cold weather."

The tradition was inspired by the original Groundhog Day, which was celebrated for the first time on Feb. 2, 1887, at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the website said.

"According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, it gets scared and runs back into its burrow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring," Milltown’s website said.

This year, mourners of Milltown Mel are being asked to tune in to his cousins' predictions on Groundhog Day.

"We will work hard on getting us a new weather prognosticator for next year," the Facebook post read, "till then please check out what all of Mel’s cousins have to say on Feb 2nd."