HOWELL (WWJ) – We’re in for six more weeks of wintry weather, according to Woody the Woodchuck, the state’s official groundhog.

Woody the Woodchuck made her 20th annual Groundhog’s Day predication Friday morning at the Howell Conference and Nature Center. She refused to come out of her house, indicating winter is here to stay.

If Woody emerges from her house and stays out before the 30-second countdown is over, she is indicating an early spring. If she doesn’t come out at all or runs back into her house before the 30 seconds are up, she is forecasting six more weeks of winter.

Woody’s prediction is made on the same day as Groundhog Day’s most famous and furry prognosticator: Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil. This year, Phil saw his shadow, indicating six more weeks of winter.

“Punxsutawney Phil supposedly whispers in their ear. We’re wildlife naturalists out here and very scientific. So, we actually let the groundhog decide by her actions, by her natural behavior, whether she is frightened by her shadow and stays in or she sees no shadow and comes out, predicting an early spring,” said Wildlife Director Dana DeBenham.

Last year, Woody refused to come out of her house, indicating a longer winter in her nineteenth prediction. Hopefully, she’s feeling more adventurous this year!

Groundhog Day forecasts emanating from Howell Nature Center have been correct fifteen times out of nineteen, an accuracy rate that vastly surpasses Punxsutawney Phil’s 39 percent, as recorded on the Stormfax Weather Almanac.

“Woody is very, very accurate and we do believe that’s because she’s a female,” said DeBenham. “She has that women’s intuition.”

A rare misstep in 2013, when Woody incorrectly forecast an early spring, prompted an apology from the Michigan mammal.


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