Experts say ‘Six More Weeks of Winter’

“They’re everywhere! They’re everywhere!”

Or most likely, not everywhere at all, according to the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Of course, we are talking about our furry friends, groundhogs. Or more specifically, woodchucks. The Federation says, in an excerpt reprinted below, woodchucks (also called groundhogs,) don’t come out of hibernation until late March or probably even later. That’s okay with us. Because, as the Federation says, we still love Groundhog Day.

Locally, the predictions were pretty well unanimous. It was mostly sunny here in northern Alberta. So, we are in for six more weeks of winter. Which is about par for the course, as they say. That six weeks takes us to mid-March. We always like to think spring starts with the Edmonton Sportsman Show which this year is March 12 to 15. There you go. Not early this year.

Peace River Paulie, Grimshaw Gertie, Falher Freddie, McLennnan Mike, High Prairie Henry, Grouard Gertie (no relation to the Grimshaw Gert), Enilda Eddie, Faust Freddie (also no relation to Falher), Kinuso Kenny, Slave Lake Sally all agreed. They all saw their shadow, had the bejeepers scared out of them, and went back to sleep.

As it happens, Canadian forecaster Accu-Weather is sort of in agreement. And sort of not. We say this because on Saturday, February 1, Accu-Weather predicted sub-zero temperatures mostly all the way to April. Now (maybe taking a signal from the expert groundhogs?) they have changed that forecast to lots of days in the next six weeks above zero. As we all know, tomorrow, and tomorrow after that, might bring different forecasts. And usually does. So right now, the professionals lean towards an early spring. The groundhogs, cooler weather until mid-March. Neither however, is predicting a return to -15 below zero or colder. Except maybe a bit in the wee small hours of the night.

There you have it. And thanks to all our unpaid weather forecasters out there in Woodchuck Land.

Here is the Canadian Wildlife Federation story:

“The woodchuck Marmota monax—sometimes called groundhog—is a rodent and belongs to the large group of mammals Rodentia, which includes squirrels, prairie dogs, and chipmunks. Within this large group the woodchuck is considered one of the marmots.

Woodchucks are the major hole-digging mammals over much of eastern North America, and in some places in the west. All sorts of animals are able to thrive because of the shelter supplied by woodchuck holes. The list includes a wide variety of fur and game animals, some of which destroy huge quantities of farm pests, such as rats, mice and insects. Skunks, raccoons, foxes, rabbits, and snakes all take shelter in woodchuck holes.

On the second of February each year, much of North America observes Groundhog Day. On that day, according to folklore, the woodchuck awakes from its long winter sleep and comes out of its den. If it sees its shadow it will go back in, and we will have another six weeks of winter. If it does not see its shadow it will remain awake and active, and we will have an early spring. This popular old legend apparently came to North America with early settlers from Europe, where it is believed in some parts that bears or badgers behave in the same manner. Although most people recognize that the legend has no basis in fact, it provides a welcome mid-winter diversion, which is usually promoted by the news media. In reality, most woodchucks do not come out of hibernation until March, or even later in the north.”

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