The first of North America’s furry forecasters to pop out of his burrow this Groundhog Day did not see his shadow, a harbinger of an early spring.
However, the credibility of Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam was stretched somewhat by the severe winter storm that pounded Eastern Canada today.
“I like to think of Sam as a bold predictor,” said Theresa Adams, a nature interpreter at the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park. “He’s going against the grain.”
Sam emerged into a special enclosure to the sound of bagpipes and the shouts of school children who had come to watch the event.
“Sam, like usual, came out and greeted the crowd although he did seem a little sleepy.”
Ontario’s Wiarton Willie, Alberta’s Balzac Billy and Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil followed Sam’s prognostication.
Environment Canada issued a spate of weather warnings and watches across the country.
In Ontario, meteorologists say a “dangerous” winter storm is expected to dump up to 30 centimetres of snow on much of the southern part of the province.
The weather office has also issued a heavy snowfall warning for Nova Scotia.
Folklore has it that if a groundhog sees his shadow on Groundhog Day he’ll flee to his burrow, heralding six more weeks of winter, and if he doesn’t, it means spring’s around the corner.
The origins of the tradition aren’t clear, but it’s likely related to the fact that Groundhog Day falls midway between the start of winter and the beginning of spring.
Last year, several of the furry forecasters predicted six more weeks of winter.