Sir Walter Wally predicts early spring

Susan Kluttz, right, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, poses for a photo with groundhog Sir Walter Wally, held by wildlife specialist Denise Shadduck, during a ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (Kevin Martin/North State Journal)
Susan Kluttz, left, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, receives the forecast for spring weather from groundhog Sir Walter Wally, held by wildlife specialist Denise Shadduck, during a ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (Kevin Martin/North State Journal)

Susan Kluttz, left, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, receives the forecast for spring weather from groundhog Sir Walter Wally, held by wildlife specialist Denise Shadduck, during a ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (Kevin Martin/North State Journal)

RALEIGH – Sir Walter Wally decided he had enough of winter Tuesday.

Basking in a near 70 degree February day, the groundhog did not see his shadow during the 19th Annual Groundhog Day Celebration at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Wally wasn’t the only one. Grady, a fellow groundhog from Chimney Rock, did not see his shadow either. However, winter in North Carolina has one more shot. At 2:30 Tuesday afternoon Queen Charlotte will predict spring’s arrival at the Charlotte Nature Museum. According to tradition, if groundhogs see their shadow on Feb. 2 there will be six more weeks of winter.  If they don’t, spring fever hits earlier.

Sir Walter Wally was ranked seventh in Weather Channel’s top 11 “Groundhogs to Watch” in 2015. The classic Punxsutawney Phil was ranked first and is accurate about 40 percent of the time, while Wally has an impressive 55 percent accuracy rating. Phil agreed with Wally on Tuesday. He didn’t see his shadow either during his Pennsylvania ceremony.

Getting the weather report from a groundhog can be a dangerous tradition. Raleigh’s Master of Ceremony John Connors said that in 2013 the groundhog of honor bit him.  This year’s Sir Walter Wally kept his composure while predicting, interacting with kids and even tolerating a kiss from Susan Kluttz, secretary of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Emelia Cowans-Taylor, the assistant head of communications at the museum, led the “Groundhog Day” song while wildlife specialist Denise Shadduck held Sir Walter Wally as he delivered his forecast.

The annual Raleigh event also offered visitors an afternoon of activities and exhibits, including the history of Groundhog Day, animal architects and a ground toss game.

For more photos of the 19th Annual Groundhog Day Celebration, click here.