When Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow last week, I was surprised by his forecast that our winter weather would be extended, especially considering the weather at the time. But by the time Monday rolled around this week, I was becoming a believer and then Tuesday it felt like that extra winter weather came early and all at once.

The whole ritual that plays out on Groundhog Day has always fascinated me — even more than the classic Bill Murray film of the same name. The idea that a small, furry creature such as our friend Phil could be relied upon to predict our forthcoming weather patterns seems unrealistic, but his ancestors must have been right quite a bit for it to become such a legend.

The practice of predicting the weather seems as if it has always been hit-or-miss, and I’ve found even the experts often use generalities when making forecasts. The science behind the study of weather patterns is an interesting one and I always end up interviewing meteorologists longer than I probably need to because I’ve got extra weather-related questions for them.

This time of year, those extra questions usually pertain to snow. I’ve had meteorologists explain why snow is unlikely, what the difference is between freezing rain and snow, and even why some snow melts as soon as it hits the ground. Those are all facts that I bet Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t know.

If we do get a longer period of winter weather this year than we were initially expecting, my hope is that it’s not as severe as the worst of the freezing days we’ve already had this winter. Nice, cold, jacket weather is fine, but I don’t think anyone likes needing multiple layers, hats and scarves.

Happy birthday Wednesday to Noble Thomas, Dennis Ray Edwards, Tom Hagy, Ja’darius Moore, Donald Parker and Mary Johnson, all of Sherman; and Robert Baker of Bells.