Conflicting groundhog calls: Willie and Sam at odds over spring prognostications

Two of Canada’s most famous groundhog prognosticators have made conflicting calls about spring’s arrival.

Ontario’s Wiarton Willie has called for an early spring while Shubenacadie Sam, Nova Scotia’s most famous groundhog, apparently saw her shadow this morning as she emerged from a snow-covered enclosure at a wildlife park north of Halifax.

According to folklore, if a groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day, winter will drag on. However, if it doesn’t spot its shadow, spring-like weather will soon arrive.

In Wiarton, Ont., Willie was brought out on stage in a Plexiglas box and South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Garry Michi declared the rodent had heralded spring’s arrival.

But in the United States, Punxsutawney Phil agreed with Sam for a second straight year, predicting six more weeks of winter.

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

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