Hopeful Canadians look to Groundhog Day for predictions of an early spring

Wiarton, Ontario, Mayor John Close (right) laughs after listening to groundhog Wiarton Willie's weather prediction in Wiarton on Sunday February 2, 2014. The groundhog prognosticator predicted 6 more weeks of winter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Frank Gunn

WIARTON, Ont. - Groundhog Day is upon us, but there could be a let down for Canadians eagerly hoping the furry forecasters will give a sign that this especially cruel winter may be short-lived.

Local tradition states that if groundhogs emerging from their dens on Feb. 2 don't see their shadow, spring is near.

Ontario's Wiarton Willie makes his prediction this morning along with Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam and the most famous groundhog of all - Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil.

But despite what the woodchuck weathermen might say, Environment Canada says the frigid temperatures that have gripped much of the country throughout December and January will likely persist through February.

Even provinces that have enjoyed unseasonably warm temperatures, such as British Columbia and parts of Alberta, are expected to feel the chill in the coming weeks.

But as the town of Wiarton is in the midst of a snowfall warning from Environment Canada, with more than 10 cm of snow blanketing the city, hopes of an early spring may already be dashed.

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