Children wait for Shubenacadie Sam to emerge from his burrow at the wildlife park in Shubenacadie, N.S. on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Sam saw his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Wiarton Willie predicts early spring; Shubenacadie Sam calls for more winter

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

There’s 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

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Shubenacadie Sam looks around after emerging from his burrow at the wildlife park in Shubenacadie, N.S. on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Sam saw his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Just Posted

Forester’s video animation helps explain Nelson’s wildfire risks

John Cathro’s video shows who owns land in and around Nelson

‘Surrounding a community with a fire break won’t help’

RDCK offers fire danger assessments to homeowners

Carfentanil found for first time in Castlegar

Killer opiod found in local illegal drug market

LETTER: 140,000 jobs are at risk

From reader Robert MacCrae

LETTER: Grateful for guardian angels

From reader Botella (Bo) Rudolph

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Deadly synthetic drug found in Kamloops that puts users in ‘zombielike’ state

Interior Health warning says substance causes ‘speedy, trippy-like symptoms’ and hallucinations

Trudeau to be portrayed on ‘Simpsons’ episode

Toronto journalist who’s posted videos of himself doing impressions of the PM voiced him for the show

Elizabeth May’s wedding dress a ‘walk through a garden’ on Earth Day

Green Party leader set to get married in Victoria

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

Happy birthday: Queen Elizabeth II turns 93 on Easter Sunday

Sunday is the first of two birthday celebrations each year for the queen

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

Most Read