Split decision from Canada’s famed groundhogs


WIARTON, Ont. – Two of Canada’s celebrity groundhogs have come up with a split decision today on the long-range weather forecast.

Ontario’s Wiarton Willie did not see his shadow this morning, predicting an early spring.

About 100 people braved chilly temperatures in the small southern Ontario town of Wiarton to see the furry prognosticator give his annual forecast, but Willie appeared content just to snuggle in his tiny cube for warmth.

In Nova Scotia, Shubenacadie Sam saw his shadow when he emerged from his burrow, which according to groundhog folklore means six more weeks of winter.

“Given the weather forecast and the amount of snow currently on the ground, Sam’s prediction likely isn’t a surprise to most Nova Scotians,” said Zach Churchill, the province’s natural resources minister.

Last year, only Willie was correct when he spotted his shadow.

Neither Shubenacadie Sam nor the lesser-known Winnipeg Willow saw theirs, thereby forecasting an early spring.

They were wrong. A polar vortex plunged Canada into a brutal winter that dragged on and on.

Environment Canada has already crunched the data for the next month and come up with this prediction: February will be colder than normal across the country.

Senior climatologist Dave Phillips notes Wiarton Willie’s overall record is spotty, but says predicting the weather is a tough gig.

“His batting average is not that great… but hey, neither is ours.”

In the United States, handlers of Pennsylvania’s famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, say that rodent has forecast six more weeks of winter.

Members of the top hat-wearing Inner Circle announced the “forecast” just before 7:30 a.m. today.

In reality, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler’s Knob, the tiny hill in the town for which he’s named, about 100 kilometres northeast of Pittsburgh.