On Sunday, for a few minutes at least, a groundhog named Woodstock Willie braved the cold in front of a crowd in Woodstock.
He probably shivered a little – most of us can relate – then he saw his shadow as the sun peaked out just before 7:07 a.m.
The thought of six more weeks of winter sent a chill down our spines.
This winter is on pace to be the coldest winter on record, with an average low of 4.3 degrees at the National Weather Service's data point in Marengo through the end of January. Meanwhile, 38.5 inches of snow had fallen through January.
One problem with the continued snowfall is the increased danger that accompanies it. Several area municipalities have run through their road-salt reserves and are being more judicious about its use as costs pile up along with the snow.
That means drivers have to use even more caution, or avoid driving completely, after a snowfall. Wednesday morning, portions of Route 31 in Crystal Lake and Algonquin were shut down after semitrailers were unable to make it up a hill.
The weather also was a factor in the death of a nurse who was hit by a truck with a snowplow attached outside Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington.
More snow could be on its way as soon as Saturday, which means it's a good time to remind area residents to avoid driving on those snow-covered roads as much as possible.
Staying off the roads helps snowplow drivers more efficiently clear the roads and that, in turn, makes the roads safer for all drivers sooner.
So, as you head out this weekend, take care and take your time. Leave a safe stopping distance between your car and the one in front of you. And, if there is any way to avoid it, stay away from roads you believe will be treachorous.
That way, we all can get through the remaining six weeks of winter safely – if Woodstock Willie's prediction is right.