Wiarton Willie predicts early spring; Shubenacadie Sam says there’s more winter to come

There are conflicting predictions from Canada’s two most famous forecasting groundhogs, with Wiarton Willie heralding an early spring while Shubenacadie Sam claims there will be six more weeks of winter.

The mayor of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula, which includes the community of Wiarton, announced Willie’s prediction on stage with Premier Doug Ford on Saturday morning.

Folklore has it that if a groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day, it will retreat into its burrow, heralding six more weeks of cold weather. But spring-like temperatures are thought to be on the way if no shadow is seen.

Willie was backed up by the most famous American groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.

But Shubenacadie Sam, Nova Scotia’s Groundhog Day darling, grudgingly clambered out of his shelter just after dawn, saw his shadow, and retreated into hiding.

Tabitha Cox, head nature interpreter at the wildlife park where Sam lives, said about 200 people came out to the park in frosty weather to watch the furry forecaster make his prediction.

“I heard some booing,” she said. “People love it or hate it with winter.”

The wildlife park has held Groundhog Day events for the past 30 or so years, and Cox says there’s a “Shubenacadie Sam family” of groundhogs that are used to make their forecasts.

Meanwhile, Val D’Espoir, Que.-based Fred la marmotte was carried out of a little log cabin and predicted winter would go on for another six weeks.

But the human weather experts say the odd ritual has a terrible record when it comes to predicting the weather.

In his book, “The Day Niagara Falls Ran Dry,” climatologist David Phillips cites a survey of 40 years of weather data from 13 Canadian cities, which concluded there was an equal number of cloudy and sunny days on Feb. 2 — and during that time, the groundhogs’ predictions were right only 37 per cent of the time.

But Cox said that despite the hit-or-mostly-miss nature of these forecasts, it’s important to keep the tradition alive for Canadians who want to have some fun and blow off some mid-winter steam.

“I think it’s just because it’s something fun in the dead of winter,” she said. ”(There’s) not much else going on, Christmas and New Year’s are well over, Easter’s still a long way away. It’s just a chance to have some fun.”

Last year, Sam predicted a quicker onset of warmer weather, while Willie forecast six more weeks of winter.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Quebec wins ringette gold in overtime

End-to-end thriller played before more than 1,100 fans at Servus Arena

Alberta’s men and women speedskaters take silver in relay

Speedskaters credited hard training for Friday’s success

Photo radar unlikely to change in Red Deer

City participates in photo radar review

Trial into fatal Canada Day crash to continue

A trial into a fatal Canada Day 2016 crash failed to wrap… Continue reading

NEB gives Trans Mountain pipeline expansion its endorsement

CALGARY — The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: Must-have wardrobe basics

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Local Sports: Tanner Butler: A gifted defenceman

RDC hockey Kings head coach Trevor Keeper had an idea of what… Continue reading

Stettler RCMP looking for hit-and-run driver

A white Dodge truck with a flat deck backed into a car… Continue reading

Seniors: Who owns your medical records?

Have you ever been asked to fill in authorization forms or pay… Continue reading

Ponoka man attacked by dogs issues plea to town council

Troubles with bylaw and handling of court case prompts presentation to council

‘Napalm Girl’ to discuss journey from hatred to forgiveness

Latest Herr Lecture to feature Kim Phuc Phan Thi at LMC

Rabbits saved from barn fire in Ponoka County

The Ponoka County East District Fire Department was called to a barn fire

Abel begins diving season on brink of record for most worlds medals

MONTREAL — Jennifer Abel could make history this summer in Gwangju, South… Continue reading

On eve of return to Toronto, former Raptors star DeRozan says he’s “moved on”

TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan has found closure. When the player once fondly… Continue reading

Most Read