Balzac Billy has been predicting Alberta's spring weather on Groundhog Day for many years. (Contributed by Balzac Business Community Association)

Balzac Billy predicts more winter

The Groundhog’s Day tradition continued at the Blue Grass Nursery with a live video

Winter will stick around a bit longer, according to Alberta’s rodent prognosticator.

The seasonal prediction went high tech Tuesday morning with Alberta’s own Balzac Billy awaking at the Blue Grass Nursery and Garden Centre for Groundhog’s Day.

The rodent awoke from hibernation at 8:13 a.m. at the annual Groundhog’s day event, and predicted more winter for Alberta. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the prediction was done over Facebook and Instagram live.

As soon as Billy’s prediction came in, snow started to fall.

Sad moans followed the prediction as Billy went back into his whole into his whole.

North America’s other two groundhogs, Wiarton Willie from Ontario predicted an early spring while his counterpart and Punxsutawney Phil from Pennsylvania, predicted six more weeks of winter.

According to the folks at Blue Grass Nursery and Garden Centre, Balzac Billy’s prediction are 86 per cent accurate.

In Alberta, Billy is actually not a groundhog, but still makes the annual prediction for the province.

Balzac Billy was originally a Richardson Ground Squirrel, a common species found throughout Alberta.Today he is a man-sized groundhog mascot brought out on Groundhog’s Day, Feb. 2, each year.

Groundhog Day derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition. It is believed if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees a shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks, and if he does not, due to cloudiness, spring season will arrive early.

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