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Wiarton Willie forecasts early spring

By Carolyn E. Price     Feb 2, 2007 in Environment
It's a triple play, Wiarton Willie, Shubenacadie Sam and Punxsutawney Phil all agree, an early spring is on the way!
Wiarton Willie, Canada's most famous weather prognosticating rodent did not see his shadow this morning when he was roused from his slumber this morning. For us here on the east coast, the winter that arrived late and rather coldly, will give way to an early spring.
Nova Scotia's furry weather forecaster, Shubenacadie Sam, is also predicting winter will be short-lived.
And Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania's famous groundhog: he too also failed to spot his shadow when he emerged from his den.
Willie, the pudgy albino woodchuck failed to see his shadow today in Wiarton, which is in central Ontario.
Shubenacadie Sam emerged from his custom-built enclosure, to the sound of the bagpipes and a town crier and with a light snow falling, near Halifax and did not see his shadow.
"We had a great hurray over that, because we're going to have an early spring," said Sue Penney, a spokeswoman for Nova Scotia's Department of Natural Resources.
Since 1886, Phil has seen his shadow 96 times, hasn't seen it 14 times and there are no records for nine years, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The last time Phil failed to see his shadow was in 1999. More than 15,000 revelers waited in a misty snow for Phil's prediction, while fireworks exploded overhead and music blared in the background.
Folklore has it that if a groundhog sees his shadow on Groundhog Day, he'll flee to his burrow, heralding six more weeks of winter - if he doesn't, it means an early spring.
The origins of the tradition aren't clear, but it's likely related to the fact that Groundhog Day falls midway between the start of winter and the beginning of spring. Some say it started with Candlemas, a Christian custom named for the lighting candles during the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. According to an old Scottish couplet: "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year."
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