Groundhog Day 2013: Early spring predicted by Canada’s furry prognosticators, although consensus is lacking

Ontario's Wiarton Willie passes on his prognostication to Wiarton mayor. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Frank Gunn photo

This winter's crazy weather is apparently throwing off the forecasting techniques of the tiny band of furry meteorologists we use to predict how much winter we have left.

[ Photos: Furry weather forecasters at Groundhog Day 2013 ]

Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil and Ontario's Wiarton Willie, the two longest-running prognosticators, are clearly on one side of the fence, judging by these tweets:

While Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam and Quebec's Fred beg to differ on the subject:

Groundhog Day: Shubenacadie Sam predicts more winter

And the latest to sound off was the newest (and only female) member of the team, Manitoba's Winnipeg Willow, who apparently broke the tie in favour of the veterans when she reported that she had seen no shadow.

Of course, the idea behind this forecast is that if the fuzzy marmot fails to see a shadow, it will stay outside and we will enjoy an early spring thaw. However, if the jittery creature spots its shadow, it will scurry back inside its burrow, dooming us to six more weeks of cold weather.

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Pennsylvania's famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.I could go into some detail here about the accuracy of using groundhogs to predict the weather for the next six weeks, but that's really not what Groundhog Day is about. It's a tradition. It's a celebration. It's a party. It's an awesome Bill Murray movie.

They may as well make it a national holiday in Canada and the United States, to give people an early February day off to either escape or enjoy the winter weather (the U.S. had Martin Luther King Jr. Day just this past Monday, but that's a decidedly more somber holiday).

If you'd like the details on the science, I'm sorry to say that the numbers do not favour our furry forecasters and this excellent article suggests that no one "should rely on a groundhog to predict the remainder of this winter."

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