In the midst of a winter season that has brought record-breaking snowfall, intense ice storms and frigid temperatures, Canadians across the country were waiting with bated breath on Sunday to see what a few furry rodents have to say about when they can expect some reprieve.
Every Feb. 2, a select few groundhogs are woken weeks before they would wake naturally from hibernation to predict the weather.
According to a centuries-old legend, if the groundhog sees its shadow, it will return to its burrow, indicating six more weeks of winter.
If the groundhog doesn’t retreat into hiding, spring will come early.
The Groundhog Day tradition is celebrated across the country and in the United States.
Here is a list of some prognosticating groundhogs and what each said about when spring will arrive.
Shubenacadie Sam lives at the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park in Nova Scotia.
Living on the east coast, Sam is the first rodent to make a prediction in Canada on Groundhog Day.
Normally, the park hosts a special event on Feb. 2 to celebrate Groundhog Day, however, this year it was cancelled due to weather concerns.
But the weather didn’t stop Sam from making his prediction.
“Who could have called this, it has cleared after the storm allowing for a shadow!” a tweet from Sam early Sunday morning reads. “I predict 6 more weeks of winter!”
Wiarton Willie is a prognosticating groundhog who lives in the town of South Bruce Peninsula in Ontario.
According to his website, he is the “most famous groundhog in Canada and the only albino weather prognosticator in the world.”
Each year the town of South Bruce Peninsula holds a week-long festival which draws thousands of visitors to celebrate Willie’s prediction.
This year Willie predicted it will be an early spring.
“With cloudy skies and snow falling upon us this morning in #Wiarton it was very hard to find my shadow – even with all the camera lights around!” he wrote in a tweet. “Fans of spring rejoice, an #EarlySpring is around the corner.”
Fred la Marmotte
Fred la Marmotte is the official groundhog of Quebec, and lives in the town of Val-d’Espoir in the Perce region of the province.
He and his father have been making predictions on the arrival of spring since 2010.
This year Fred predicted spring will come early.
Winnipeg Wynn lives at the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitiation Centre (PWRC) in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Wyn was taken in by staff at PWRC in 2016.
Now, she predicts when spring will come, but not how the other groundhogs do.
Staff at the rehab centre staff predict seasonal change by observing Wynn over time and understanding her behaviours.
Early Sunday morning, Wynn predicted an early spring.
Meanwhile, Manitoba Merv made his prognostication at the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre north of Winnipeg.
The puppet is on team early spring.
While groundhogs can be found in woodlands across Canada and the United States, in Alberta, they are limited to Peace River Country.
The furry critters are not known to live in the southern part of the province.
So, lacking a real groundhog, Alberta uses Balzac Billy — which is a person in a groundhog costume — to predict when spring will come.
The “Prairie Prognosticator” agreed with the majority, predicting that spring will arrive early.
South of the border, in the American state of Pennsylvania, lives another prognosticating groundhog.
Each year on Groundhog Day, a festival is held and Punxsutawney Phil — named after his home town — makes his prediction.
This year Phil predicted spring will come early. Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog on Sunday declared: “Spring will be early, it’s a certainty.”
—With a file from The Associated Press