Raleigh, N.C. — Predicting weather during the winter months in North Carolina is never easy, but this season has been especially challenging thanks to back-and-forth temperatures that have kept people guessing.
But guess no more.
With sunny skies and temperatures around 65 degrees at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh, Sir Walter Wally – the Triangle’s answer to Pennsylvania's famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil – saw its shadow Thursday afternoon.
"He says there's good news and there's bad news," honorary groundhog handler Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said. "The bad news is he saw his shadow, which is six more weeks of winter. But the good news, he said, is this is winter."
In an interview with WRAL News after the announcement, museum staff revealed that Sir Walter Raleigh is actually a female groundhog.
Punxsutawney Phil also predicted six more weeks of winter earlier Thursday after emerging from his lair just before 7:30 a.m. Garner's Mortimer the Groundhog, however, predicted an early spring.
The Groundhog Day celebration is rooted in a German superstition that says if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2 – the Christian holiday of Candlemas – winter will last another six weeks. If there's no shadow, legend says, spring comes early.
The Museum of Sciences, each year, hosts the ceremony and a free event at the museum, in which visitors can learn about animal hibernation, signs of spring, the history of Groundhog Day and more.
This year, fans also got a chance to have their photos taken with the 10-month-old Wally.