Milltown Mel, famed groundhog meteorologist Punxsutawney Phil’s New Jersey counterpart, has sadly seen the last shadow he’ll ever see.
On the eve of the annual Groundhog Day festivities and Mel’s big day, it was announced that Mel — the bucktoothed weather forecaster — had shuffled off this mortal coil.
Much like his Pennsylvania cousin Punxsutawney Phil, Mel usually wakes from his hibernation Feb. 2 to the sight of men clad in black tailcoats and top hats, deciphering whether his half-asleep steps toward his shadow are the harbinger of more winter or early spring.
The Milltown Wranglers, the group tasked as interpreters of Mel’s Groundhogese, made the announcement of Mel’s demise on Mel’s Facebook page.
“We Wranglers are sad to report that Milltown Mel recently crossed over the rainbow bridge,” the Wranglers said in a post. “Considering the average lifespan of a groundhog is about 3 years, that is not such a shock. ...”
A cause of death has not been released, though if Mel, 6, is anything like Punxsutawney Phil, he is immortal and will soon return, unscathed and furry as ever (at least according to his handlers). According to the Wranglers, Mel died when most groundhogs are hibernating, so no baby groundhogs will be able to replace him until the spring.
“We will work hard on getting us a new weather prognosticator for next year, till then please check out what all of Mel’s cousins have to say on Feb 2nd,” the group said in a Facebook post.