Winnipeg's starlet of Groundhog Day was rousted from a deep sleep Sunday morning and didn't cast a shadow -- so you know what that means.
Willow, the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre's resident groundhog, has predicted an early spring for the good people of the city.
She made her prediction at FortWhyte Alive bright and early.
"For today, Feb. 2, 2014, Willow did not see her shadow. Therefore, she has predicted an early spring," Melanie Ives, a PWRC volunteer, said just after 8 a.m.
In what can only be considered terrific news for all Manitobans, Oak Hammock Marsh's groundhog, Manitoba Merv, also predicted an early spring when he didn't see his shadow, either. But he's just a puppet.
Willow was sleepy, but managed to make her prediction, then cuddle back into cosy towels in her transportation crate.
"Last year, Willow incorrectly predicted an early spring and, looking to redeem herself, she hopes to begin her winning streak again," Ives said. Willow is 1-1 in predications since 2012. She became the PWRC "educational woodchuk" after she was found orphaned at just five weeks old in spring 2010 when a dog killed her mother.
She broke one of her back legs learning how to climb, which required extensive rehabilitation and hands-on care.
"By the time it healed, she had been with us so long that she could not be released," said Sheila Smith, who founded the PWRC with Lisa Tretiak.
Wildlife rehab centre education volunteer Andy Pulo, who was handling Willow on her big morning Sunday, said groundhogs in the wild are usually hibernating at this time of year. Pulo is one of the few volunteers who Willow allows to handle her.
Willow "prepares for her big day" by eating green vegetables such as kale and peas and sometimes a small tomato and a few strawberries, said Ives. Her favourite food is peanuts.
Not surprisingly, predications varied among groundhog prognosticators around North America.
However, regardless of what the groundhogs may be trying to tell us, Environment Canada is predicting the frigid temperatures that have gripped much of the country for the past two months will likely persist right through February.