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Groundhog Day results

Andrea Stockton, staff writer
February 2, 2012 — This Groundhog Day, all eyes were on the furry forecasters. Meteorologists at The Weather Network weighed in on their predictions.

Six more weeks of winter or an early spring?
Six more weeks of winter or an early spring?

Groundhog Day is the halfway point of winter, and many Canadians rely on the animal for an indication of what's left of the season.

"It's a day when meteorologists compete against the rodents with the forecast," jokes Gina Ressler, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

As the tradition goes, if the groundhog sees its shadow, six more weeks of cold weather is expected. And if it doesn't see its shadow, then an early spring is in store.

Based on historical data, scientists say there is about a 30-40% accuracy rate with Canadian groundhogs.

"That's the same as a 'chance,'" says Ressler. "It's like flipping a coin. There's no science to back up the predictions from the groundhogs, it's just a fun ritual on the cusp of spring."

Who saw a shadow, and who did not?
Who saw a shadow, and who did not?

Meteorologists at The Weather Network had a pretty good idea of what the groundhogs would predict Thursday, but suggested Canadians take it with a grain of salt.

"It will be mainly cloudy in southern Ontario Thursday morning, so Wiarton Willie is unlikely to see its shadow," Ressler predicted on Wednesday.

And lo and behold, when Willie made his appearance just after 8 am on Thursday morning, he saw no shadow, predicting an early spring.

It was a similar story in Nova Scotia, where a cloudy start to the day meant Schubenacadie Sam didn't see its shadow either.

But "While the cloudy conditions typically mean an early end to winter, that won't necessarily be the case in eastern Canada. The region will be getting into a pattern of yo-yo temperatures of milder weather, mixed with cooler air coming in from the north."

A couple of hours later, a sunny start to the day in Alberta meant that Balzac Billy spotted his shadow -- which Ressler also predicted.

However, she says that this furry prognosticator may not be completely accurate either.

"I'd have to disagree with this prediction in terms of the long-range forecast", says Ressler. "A strong ridge in the jet stream shows a couple more weeks of mild and dry weather similar to what the area has been seeing recently."

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