Forget Punxsutawney Phil: Lander Lil Says 6 More Months Of Winter In Wyoming

While most of the U.S. relies on Punxsutawney Phil to predict an end to winter, Wyoming looks to Lander Lil, a prognosticating prairie dog. She saw her shadow on Thursday which means six more months of winter is ahead.

Jake Nichols

February 02, 20232 min read

Lander Lil 2 2 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

It’s Feb. 2 and most anyone in central Wyoming knows what that means. 

For the nation, all eyes are on Gobbler’s Knob in western Pennsylvania and a squatty groundhog who plays a one-day meteorologist, for the past 137 years predicting winter’s end. 

In Wyoming, the forecast is hardly crystal ball-type stuff. Cowboy State stalwarts know they’re in for six more weeks (or more) of winter, regardless. 

Punxsutawney Phil — who historically is batting around 40%, by the way — did see his shadow Thursday, relegating the United States to more winter through March 21. 

Did you know that Phil isn’t the only varmint visionary in the country? There are rodent replicas in New Jersey, Tennessee, West Virginia, New York, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. 

Phil, Meet Lil

Even Wyoming has its unofficial version, a prairie dog named Lander Lil, who has been peering into her crystal snow globe since the town’s centennial in 1984. 

Despite most of Lander and, likely, the rest of Wyoming pleading for a break in what has been a real old-fashion winter, Lil was spooked by her shadow on a beautifully crisp, sunny day Thursday in Fremont County. 

And who are we fooling? Six more weeks of winter? More like, six more months of winter is ahead.

“Oops, sorry,” said Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day.

“Once a year we are upstaged by a chiseler,” Day said. “That’s fine. Maybe we’ll take the day off and go ice fishing.”

Both Marmots

Lander’s Lil is a prairie dog as opposed to Punxsutawney’s groundhog. 

While both are subspecies of marmot, prairie dogs are much smaller than groundhogs. Prairie dogs also prefer communal living in colonies while groundhogs tend to live a solitary life. 

Word to the wise, Lil. Unappreciated weather predictions in the Cowboy State could result in a case of lead poisoning, as Outdoors Writer Mark Heinz reported Wednesday. 

You’ve been warned.

Share this article



Jake Nichols

Features Reporter