CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Maybe it was the trees that blocked the sun, or maybe Queen Charlotte just wasn’t looking hard enough.
Or maybe the Charlotte Nature Museum’s resident groundhog simply has can’t stand winter.
It doesn’t matter. Queen Charlotte’s official forecast is for an early spring.
The highlight of the Nature Museum’s annual Groundhog Day events came shortly before noon, when naturalist Adriana Manchen, clad in dress pants and a black bowtie, brought Queen Charlotte outdoors. Despite fullsunshine, Manchen declared, “She did not see her shadow.”
Or, as the groundhog reported via Twitter, “Early spring!”
The old Candlemas Day tradition says that if the groundhog sees its shadow on Feb. 2, six more weeks of wintry weather are ahead. No shadow means an early spring.
While a hit with the hundreds of children who gathered behind the Nature Museum on Saturday to see her, and despite her apparent prowess on social media, Queen Charlotte hasn’t been quite so spectacular with her weather forecasts. She predicted six more weeks of winter last year, but the Charlotte area experienced one of the mildest winters on record.
Over the past five years, she’s been correct twice.
But at least she was well-behaved. Four years ago, New York City’s official groundhog, Staten Island Chunk, bit the city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, during the big festivities.
Saturday’s celebration in Charlotte attracted a large crowd, with cars lining the streets around the nature museum.
“We expected the crowds to be even larger this year, with Groundhog Day falling on a Saturday,” said Logan Stewart, a spokeswoman for the nature museum.
Queen Charlotte’s forecast put her at odds with two of the Southeast’s other groundhogs. Sir Walter Wally in Raleigh and General Beauregard Lee in Atlanta each saw his shadow. It was better news for winter-haters up north. The country’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phill, did not see his shadow Saturday morning at Punxsutawney, Pa. And the same was true for Staten Island Chuck.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center seems to side with Queen Charlotte, when it comes to the Southeast. Meteorologists expect above-average temperatures for the next two weeks, and average to above-average temperatures through March.