People in towns across the United States were expected to rise early from their beds and step outside to see if a small, furry rodent-type animal put an early end to winter’s chill or extended the cold weather for six more weeks.
There are numerous “official” groundhog prognosticators around the country — including Buckeye Chuck in Ohio — but the most famous is Punxsutawney Phil, in the Pennsylvania town of the same name.
If the groundhog sees its shadow, the old legend claims, we will experience six more weeks of winter weather. If he doesn’t see his shadow, then there should be an early spring.
As of 2018, Punxsutawney Phil had made 132 predictions, with an early spring (no shadow) predicted 18 times (13.63 percent). Most estimates of the groundhog's accuracy have given results somewhere between 35 percent and 40 percent. In other words, you have better odds if you flip a coin.
Many folks who know their groundhogs, and their Groundhog Days, claim Punxsutawney is where the tradition started about 300 years ago.
Looking further back, according to the Stormfax Weather Almanac, the Delaware tribe settled the Punxsutawney region between the Allegheny and Susquehanna rivers in Pennsylvania, and the Delaware “considered groundhogs honorable ancestors,” since the Indian tribe believed its forefathers were once animals within the earth and “emerged centuries later to hunt and live as men.”
Regardless of whether a shadow is seen, the weather will be much warmer this weekend.
Today’s high will be in the 40s, while the highs for Sunday and Monday will be in the 50s — a stark contrast to this past Wednesday, when the temperature stayed below zero for most of the day.
With the warm-up, though, comes the threat of flooding.
Thick ice has developed on most area rivers. Ice may start to break up over the weekend as temperatures warm leading to the potential for ice jams.
After Monday, highs will be in the 40s and lows in the 30s through Thursday.
Today, the sun will rise at 7:39:41 a.m. and set at 5:48:45 p.m.
On Sunday, the sun will rise at 5:50:01 a.m. and set at 5:50:01 p.m.
And on Monday, the sun will rise at 7:37:33 a.m. and set at 5:51:16 p.m.
On Tuesday, the sun will rise at 7:36:27 a.m. and set at 5:52:31 p.m.
Here is the Norwalk-area forecast from the National Weather Service:
Today - Mostly cloudy, with a high near 39. Southwest wind 10 to 15 mph.
Tonight - A chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 35. South wind 10 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Sunday - Partly sunny, with a high near 49. South wind 11 to 16 mph.
Sunday night - Mostly cloudy, with a low around 39.
Monday - Showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 53. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.
Monday night - A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 37. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent.
Tuesday - Partly sunny, with a high near 43.
Tuesday night - Snow showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 30. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.
Wednesday - Showers likely. Cloudy, with a high near 43. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.
Wednesday night - A chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 32. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent.
Thursday - A chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 40. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dean Poling of The Valdosta Daily Times (TNS) in Valdosta, Ga. contributed to this story.