Albertans weary of winter's grasp on the province got a bit of good news Sunday morning, as Balzac Billy emerged from his burrow and did not see his shadow.

The groundhog, affectionately known as the "Prairie Prognosticator," popped his head out around 8 a.m. MT after a long winter's nap and was not startled back into his cozy hole. According to tradition, that means Albertans will get a break from the bitter cold with an early spring.

However, this year's Groundhog Day predictions could turn into a showdown between science and a much-loved tradition.

Despite Balzac Billy's indications, Environment Canada says hopes for an early spring might be no more than wishful thinking.

According to the national forecaster, the frigid temperatures that have gripped much of the country for the past two months will likely persist through February.

2014 groundhog predictions

With files from The Canadian Press