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

Floods, fires and park controversy played a part of Penticton’s planning

New Official Community Plan projects less than one per cent growth

Osoyoos woman who threatened mom and newborn pleads guilty

Sharon Constance Forner was arrested after a strange home invasion

Humanitarian work earns Penticton teacher Unsung Citizen award

Sandra Richardson was awarded the humanitarian award for decades of work bettering other countries

Friend of man accused of killing four people in Penticton in ‘absolute shock’

David Folstad, neighbour of alleged shooter John Brittain, said he’s a person you’d get to house sit

Mattress fire at Penticton mobile home park

Penticton Firefighters were called to a residential fire at Sun Leisure Mobile Home Park

Alleged Penticton gunman seen ‘angrily yelling’ before opening fire, witness says

One witness said she heard three bangs, the other said the alleged shooter walked right by him

Prince George sweeps to first-ever BC Hockey League crown

Spruce Kings beat Vernon Vipers 3-1 in the Okanagan Wednesday for 13th straight playoff win

Hwang’s first MLS goal lifts Whitecaps to 1-0 win over LAFC

Vancouver picks up first victory of season

Kelowna teen fighting for life in Vancouver hospital

A GoFundMe has been set up for KSS’s Erin Tannar

WATCH: Okanagan creator transforms into Megatron

Vernon’s Darren McNiven lives in car and creates Transformer replicas, art in former storage bin

African children’s choir brings joy and energy to Okanagan-Shuswap

Performances in Salmon Arm, Penticton and Summerland will raise funds for education.

Child-proof your windows ahead of warm weather: B.C. expert

Fifteen children were taken to BC Children’s Hospital for falls in 2018

Salmon Arm church enveloped with care after shooting

Elder: ‘We’re still processing; it will be a while to get over the worst of this.’

Tribute concert to raise money for youth treatment centre in Kelowna

The ABBA and Fleetwood Mac tribute bands will raise funds for he Bridge Youth & Family Services’ Youth Recovery House campaign

Most Read