Kinuso Kenny, McLennan Mike and Peace River Patty are all notorious woodchucks, or groundhogs, in northern Alberta.
They, and all their cousins around the Peace Country and Lesser Slave Lake regions have their share of that world famous day, Groundhog Day, on February 2.
The story goes, if the Groundhogs see their shadows on Groundhog Day, frightened, they scurry back into their dens. There, they snooze away for another six weeks, while winter weather goes on and on outside.
It’s safe to say, no matter what their weather predictions might be, there are very good chances they will be at least as correct as any well-paid “professionals” at news stations, weather forecasting companies, TV announcers, weather scientists, or traditional soothsayers. Added to generally haphazard forecasts offered up by the pros, is the fact northern Alberta is probably more likely to have winter in February. Most of March. And sometimes even in April.
Six weeks takes us to mid-March. A betting person wagering it will be winter on March 16 will scoop up all the marbles better than half the time, we would say. Of course, there are those who say spring is here when the big yellow snowplow in the sky clears the roads. Or when we see some running water because of a chinook. A little bit of snow after that means nothing. Heck, it has snowed in Winnipeg in July!
Moving on to the news of the day, Groundhog Day, it is a mixed bag. Those groundhogs who partied up the night before, well, they arose late Wednesday morning to be greeted by a feeble sun. It wasn’t a bright, sunny day as forecast. But after 10:00 A.M. it was enough to cast a shadow.
Those furballs who were up at the crack of dawn, or at the latest, between sunrise and 9:30 A.M, saw mostly an overcast sky and diffuse light. Shadows were ill defined if they were there at all.
Reporting on this rare happening is hard. Just as there are no clear rules as to what exactly is “winter,” there are no clear rules as to when the local forecaster comes out of his, or her, burrow. In fact, there are no clear rules as to what exactly makes up a shadow. We are sure the little guys and girls know what is what. But they aren’t talking.
So, we are going to go with the betting person. It is indeed a tricky wager. But our money is on six more weeks of winter. For this part of the land anyway.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac is close to agreeing. Their prediction, for Edmonton south anyway, is a warmer February than average. 6 degrees C warmer than average in fact. Then snow flurries off and on all the way until around March 20. But, 2 degrees C warmer than average. Bottom line? Six more weeks of winter.