Human experts, computers, and Animal Kingdom forecasters all agree, “Winter is almost over!”

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“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 and not “Woodchuck Day.”.

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Any person looking out their window in the Peace River – Lesser Slave Lake region Tuesday, February 2, at around 8 to 10 A.M. saw the same thing.

Grey, overcast skies. No sign of a sun trying to peek through. And if one was particularly observant, not a shadow from anything. That’s right folks. No shadows. Which according to popular legend around the world, means groundhogs did not see their own shadows. At least, in our part of the world. The same legend says we won’t be getting another six weeks of winter.

In fact, all predictions at this point in time for our part of the land are pretty well unanimous. The professionals and computers at Environment Canada and Accu-Weather which drives The Weather Network agreed with our furry buddies.

Down in eastern Canada and the United States, winter will likely persist. Call it the La Nina weather effect. Winter in most parts will run until mid-March or later.

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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. No shadows.

Canadian forecaster Accu-Weather says frigid weather, in the minus teens, will be with us until about February 22. After that, it is still in negative territory at night, but above zero for many daytime highs. Last year, the same forecasters predicted sub-zero temperatures mostly all the way to April. This year, all are in sort of agreement spring is just around the corner.

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

Last year, we published a Canadian Wildlife Federation story about some interesting details about Kinuso Kenny and all his cousins:

“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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