Balzac Billy predicts early spring despite frigid forecasts

Alberta's most-watched rodent emerged from his burrow Sunday morning amid much specuation and did not see his shadow.

Groundhog emerged from burrow just after 8 a.m. and did not see his shadow

Alberta's Balzac Billy did not see his shadow on Sunday, meaning, according to myth, that the province could see an early spring. (Balzac Business Community Association)

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.

With files from The Canadian Press