Spring to come early, Wiarton Willie predicts on Groundhog Day

The Canadian Press

Shubenacadie Sam heads from his den at the wildlife park in Shubenacadie, N.S. on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. (ANDREW VAUGHAN/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

It’s Groundhog Day — the day millions of North Americans turn to weather prognosticating rodents in the hope they’ll call for an early spring.

And Wiarton Willie, Canada’s most celebrated of all its furry forecasters, is predicting an early spring.

Folklore has it that if a groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day it’ll flee back to its burrow, heralding six more weeks of winter, and if it doesn’t, it means spring’s just around the corner. Willie did not see his shadow this morning.

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On the East Coast, Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam was the first out of his burrow this morning to make his prediction to a worldwide audience via webcam, and sadly for those hoping for an early spring, the pride of Shubenacadie did see his shadow. So did Quebec’s groundhog, Fred, who gave his forecast in front of a church in Val d’Espoir, a community in the Gaspesie region.

Still to come is Winnipeg Willow’s forecast. She’ll be visiting a Mountain Equipment Co-op store to make her prediction.

Stateside, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil is generally regarded as the groundhog of record and his prediction this morning is for an early spring.