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GROUNDHOG DAY: Furry prognosticators make their predictions

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SHUBENACADIE, NS — In what is likely to be heralded as a grim Groundhog Day forecast, one of Canada’s most famous rodents died before he was due to make his prediction of the arrival of spring.

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Organizers in Quebec broke the news to the crowd gathered in Val d’Espoir this morning that nine-year-old Fred la Marmotte had been found dead the night before.

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In Fred’s place, organizers pulled a stuffed marmot from a miniature wooded cabin and gave it to a child, who called for six more weeks of winter.

Predictions were divided among the marmots who showed up on the crucial day.

It is official! That’s a confirmed shade! Get ready for another 6 weeks of winter, don’t put your hat and gloves away just yet. #ShubieSam #GroundhogDay2023 #LongWinter pic.twitter.com/qKEFCTvOWT

— Shubenacadie Sam (@ShubenacadieSam) February 2, 2023

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

At Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba Merv, the weather forecasting puppet groundhog, came out at sunrise and predicted we were coming six more weeks of winter in Manitoba.

“But as much as we believe in a stuffed rodent’s ability to predict the arrival of spring, the best way to tell if we’re having an early spring is to keep an eye out for the arrival of the first Canada geese,” reported Oak Hammock Marsh on his website. “Recording the spring arrival of the first Canada goose sighted at Oak Hammock Marsh is an annual tradition.”

According to folklore, when a marmot sees its shadow on Groundhog Day, winter drags on. However, if he does not discover his shadow, spring-like weather will soon set in.

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In the United States, Punxsutawney Phil Sam agreed for a second straight year and predicted six more weeks of winter.

At Gobbler’s Knob, a community about 65 miles (105 km) northeast of Pittsburgh, members of Punxsutawney’s “inner circle” called him down from his tree stump at dawn to see if he had seen his shadow.

The “inner circle” is a group of local dignitaries who are responsible for planning the events and feeding and caring for Phil himself.

According to records dating back to 1887, Phil predicted winter more than 100 times. Ten years were lost because records were not kept, organizers said.

The forecasts for 2021 and 2022 also called for six more weeks of winter.

New York’s Staten Island Chuck made his prediction for an early spring during an event Thursday at the Staten Island Zoo.

– with files from the Winnipeg Sun

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