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CANADA: Willie and Sam at odds over spring prognostications

Wiarton Willie has called for an early spring while Shubenacadie Sam saw her shadow this morning as she emerged
Wiarton Willie sits in his cage in Wiarton, Ont., on Friday, Feb.2, 2018. Famed and furry forecasters of spring are set to make their predictions this morning. It's Groundhog Day, and as folklore goes, a groundhog will emerge from its burrow and if it does not see its shadow, then spring is just around the corner, while if it does and retreats, then we can expect six more weeks of winter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hannah Yoon

SHUBENACADIE, N.S. — Two of Canada's most famous groundhog prognosticators have made conflicting calls about spring's arrival. 

Ontario's Wiarton Willie has called for an early spring while Shubenacadie Sam, Nova Scotia's most famous groundhog, apparently saw her shadow this morning as she emerged from a snow-covered enclosure at a wildlife park north of Halifax.

According to folklore, if a groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day, winter will drag on. However, if it doesn't spot its shadow, spring-like weather will soon arrive.

In Wiarton, Ont., Willie was brought out on stage in a Plexiglas box and South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Garry Michi declared the rodent had heralded spring's arrival. 

But in the United States, Punxsutawney Phil agreed with Sam for a second straight year, predicting six more weeks of winter. 

In a playful, peer-reviewed study published by the American Meteorological Society, researchers at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., concluded that groundhogs are "beyond a shadow of a doubt" no better at predicting spring's arrival than flipping a coin.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2023. 

The Canadian Press