By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Tuesday January 31, 2012
Do you think like a groundhog?
The local weather forecast for Thursday is a spring-like 3 degrees but we will have to watch Ontario’s Wiarton Willie and his groundhog cousins — Schubenacadie Sam of Nova Scotia and Penn state’s Punxsutawney Phil – to confirm exactly how much winter awaits.
Legend has it that if the groundhogs see their shadow on February 2, then we are stuck with six more weeks of weather.
The U.S. rodent first made his mark as a meteorologist in 1887. Wiarton Willie started his regional forecasts in 1956 and Sam joined in 1987. In Western Canada, weather predictions by Alberta’s Billie Balzac are often at odds with the east. In Manitoba, a puppet called Manitoba Merv makes predictions, though they can’t be considered as reliable as that of a living creature, can they? And though B.C. has no groundhog, there is a related mammal (a marmot from Vancouver Island) that resides in the Toronto Zoo. It’s hardly relevant how the Hogtown rat reacts, because we all know B.C. has only one season – rain – so who really cares.
In 2010, Willie saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter.
In 2011, Willie forecast an early spring; he not see his shadow.
While there is only a 39 per cent chance that Willie and his relatives will get it right, there is almost total certainty that the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day will be airing again and again this week on the tube.
One thing for sure this year, we will have to wait one more day for spring and winter, because it’s a leap year. (Source: Toronto Star)