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Dan Nicholas groundhog sees shadow on namesake holiday

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

DAN NICHOLAS PARK — One of Rowan County’s two groundhogs says winter is here to stay for a least six more weeks.

According to folklore, six more weeks of winter come when a groundhog returns to its burrow after seeing its shadow on its namesake holiday. If a groundhog emerges from its burrow on a cloudy day and doesn’t see its shadow, spring supposedly comes early.

On Thursday — Groundhog Day — one of Dan Nicholas Park’s two groundhogs saw his shadow.

The park has two 4-year-old groundhogs. Appropriately enough, one is named Shadow. The other is named Tribble.

About 8 a.m., Shadow made the same prediction as the well-known Punxsutawney Phil for another six weeks of winter. Shadow first emerged for food and later re-emerged for sunbathing. Tribble remained under a large log in his enclosure.

By 10 a.m., Shadow was enjoying sunny bits of a party cloudy day. He sat just outside a large log used as a burrow and soaked in strips of sun. He even posed for a few pictures.

Dan Nicholas Park naturalist Michael Lambert said weather on Groundhog Day may be more predictive than the groundhog.

“I think the same as a coin flip, 50-50,” Lambert said. “It might be 30 degrees and overcast or 70 degrees and sunny.”

Regardless of whether the animals are perfect meteorologists, assistant naturalist Brooke Wilson said it’s fun to check to see if the park’s groundhogs see their shadow on their namesake holiday.

The official prediction from the National Weather Service gives all of North Carolina a chance that temperatures will be above average over the next month. Rowan County has a 40 percent chance that temperatures will be above average for the next month. Rain totals are projected to be about average, according to the National Weather Service.

Over the next three months, the National Weather Service gives all of North Carolina a 30 percent chance of above-average temperatures and a greater than 30 percent chance of below-average rainfall.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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