Despite the recent chill in U.S.-Russian relations, one note of harmony was struck on February 2 when furry weather prognosticators in Punxsutawney and Nizhny Novgorod concurred -- winter is not going to end anytime soon.
In Pennsylvania, Phil the famous groundhog
saw his shadow on Groundhog Day and thus predicted six more weeks of winter.
And in Nizhny Novgorod, about 400 kilometers east of Moscow, Olesya, the resident rodent forecaster at the city's Limpopo Zoo
, didn't even come out to look.
"Olesya was asleep, and due to severe frosts, we decided not to disturb her," ITAR-TASS quoted zoo spokeswoman Maria Kalinina as saying.
According to Kalinina, no sensible groundhog comes out of its house at temperatures below minus-10 degrees Celsius, and in Nizhny Novgorod it was about minus-13 degrees.
But another groundhog further east was more optimistic.
According to the virtual groundhog featured on the U.S. Embassy in Astana's Facebook page
, spring is just around the corner.
"This year's winter in Kazakhstan will be short," the fuzzy facsimile says.
-- Dan Wisniewski