RALEIGH: Wake's groundhogs have conflicting weather predictions - WNCN: News, Weather

Wake's prognosticating groundhogs disagree on winter's end

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Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane (left) with Sir Walter Wally. (Matt Zeher, Museum of Natural Sciences) Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane (left) with Sir Walter Wally. (Matt Zeher, Museum of Natural Sciences)
Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams reads a winter prediction from Mortimer the Groundhog. Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams reads a winter prediction from Mortimer the Groundhog.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

After an unusual week that saw snow blanket the South, many were probably hoping for a different result when Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow Sunday.

The Punxsutawney, Penn., groundhog stepped out of his home only to see his shadow, meaning we can look forward to six more weeks of winter.

Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another month-and-a-half. If he doesn't see it, spring will come early.

But Phil isn't the only prognosticating groundhog in the country. In fact, Raleigh's own Sir Walter Wally has been predicting winter weather since 1998.

Unfortunately, for the second straight year, Wally also saw his shadow when he emerged at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Museum officials said Wally has been correct 50 percent of the time.

In Garner, the town's own groundhog, Mortimer, had a different outlook for the season.

Before a crowd of about 400 people at Garner's White Deer Park, Mortimer predicted one more cold snap and then an early spring. Rather than seeing his shadow, Mortimer composes a letter to Garner's mayor, who then reads the prediction aloud.

Garner''s Groundhog Day celebration, organized by Garner's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department, included the release back into the wild of three hawks and one owl by the animal rescue group CLAWS out of Chapel Hill.

This year's Groundhog Day celebration marks a winter that has brought extreme cold to vast stretches of the country, including areas of the South wholly unaccustomed to severe winter weather. A snow and ice storm paralyzed Atlanta and other Southern cities last week.

The prediction fell on Super Bowl Sunday for the first time. The closest the game previously came to coinciding with Groundhog Day was in 2009.

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