While residents of the Tri-State Area were digging out from the several inches of snow that blanketed our region this weekend, it's heartening to know that spring is on the way.
At least, that's the forecast delivered by the granddaddy of all groundhog prognosticators, Punxsutawney Phil.
Phil, who's known as the Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary to members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club as well as fans around the region and the world, emerged from his lair in the Central Pennsylvania woodlands early Saturday morning and revealed his annual forecast.
Expect an early spring, the woodchuck told his handlers, who greeted him in formal wear and top hats.
That came as good news to the thousands who had braved this weekend's bitter cold and made the trek to Punxsutawney, as well as residents of a good portion of the United States, who have experienced some rough weather this winter.
It's heartening to know that there seems to be a consensus in the groundhog world about when we can expect winter to end. Ohio's Buckeye Chuck, New York's Staten Island Chuck and Canada's Wiarton Willie, all of whom have been in the forecasting business for a much shorter time than Phil, who made his first prediction in 1886, all agreed - there will be an early spring.
Georgia's Gen. Beauregard Lee, however, is calling for six more weeks of winter.
Regardless of what the groundhogs said, however, we would be wise to remember that we are in the middle of winter, as the weekend's snow and this week's predicted snow and cold temperatures should remind us.
And, if we need any other reminder, we need to look no farther than 20 years ago, when a blizzard that blew through the eastern portion of the United States dumped 2 feet of snow on our area during the weekend of March 13-14, 1993.
While we can have some fun with the groundhogs, we would ask that you take a close look at your calendar - spring will arrive on March 20, which is about six weeks from now.