Will winter end soon? Canadian groundhogs split on spring calls

Groundhog Day didn’t go to script in Canada this year: one died before making a prediction, while others were divided over whether spring will come early this year.

Quebec’s Fred la Marmotte died before he was able to reveal his prediction Thursday, with volunteer children stepping in to take its place.

The organizer of the event, Roberto Blondin, said the famed groundhog had no vital signs when he went to wake it Wednesday night. Fred la Marmotte likely died during hibernation, Blondin said. Fred was honoured with a plush animal toy by organizers.

The group of children predicted six more weeks of winter, joining the calls from other groundhogs across Canada – except for three.

Video: Groundhog Day 2023: Shubenacadie Sam sees her shadow, predicts 6 more weeks of winter

Folklore states that if a groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day, winter will drag on. If it doesn’t spot its shadow, spring-like weather arrive soon.

Ontario’s Wiarton Willie called for an early spring Thursday morning, as did Alberta’s Blazac Billy. Organizers chanted “Billy, Billy, Billy” to get Billy – a mascot – out of his burrow. In British Columbia, stuffed groundhog Okanagan Okie also called for an early spring.

Their furry counterpart in Nova Scotia, Shubenacadie Sam, saw her shadow as she emerged from a snow-covered enclosure at a wildlife park north of Halifax. In Manitoba, the stuffed groundhog Merv saw his shadow, as did Punxsutawney Phil in the United States.

In Nova Scotia, Lucy the Lobster crawled out of the ocean at Cape Sable Island Causeway at 8 a.m. local time, and saw her shadow, organizers said.

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

— with files from Global News’ Alex Cooke, Brayden Jagger Haines and The Canadian Press



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