Image: Hartford Police Officer Claudette Kosinski, right, and Joe Little of CT Transit shovel under the wheels of a bus
Jessica Hill  /  AP
Hartford Police Officer Claudette Kosinski, right, and Joe Little of CT Transit shovel under the wheels of a bus stuck in downtown Hartford, Conn., during a Jan. 12 snowstorm. In the Northeast, people are once again reaching for shovels, cities are preparing fleets of snow plows and parents are fretting over a new round of school cancellations as another strong winter storm sweeps in. By now, some winter-weary residents are at last perfecting their pre-storm preparations, not putting much stock in whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow Wednesday morning, Feb. 2 at Gobblers Knob.
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updated 2/1/2011 5:52:41 PM ET 2011-02-01T22:52:41

"You want a prediction about the weather? You're asking the wrong Phil," Bill Murray's character says in the movie "Groundhog Day." He continues, "I'll give you a winter prediction: It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be gray, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life."

That sounds about right for the Northeast, where people are once again reaching for shovels, cities are preparing fleets of snow plows and parents are fretting over a new round of school cancellations as another strong winter storm sweeps in.

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For these folks, the premise of "Groundhog Day" — about a weatherman who wakes up each morning in Punxsutawney, Pa., to the same miserable, snowy Feb. 2 — is far from fiction.

"It's always the same thing," said Bob Reid, owner of Beakon Plowing Service in East Hartford, Conn., who has been seeing parallels with the movie for weeks. "The night before the storm, people park in the streets, and we tow them. The trucks haven't stopped."

One storm after another has clobbered the region since a post-Christmas blizzard that paralyzed much of the East Coast. In Hartford, which had its snowiest month ever in January, the storms have dumped 6 feet of snow — nearly three times the normal amount for this point in the season.

Story: Colossal storm roars across nation

Adding to the illusion of one long, uninterrupted winter slog are temperatures that have stubbornly remained below freezing and kept mountainous snowbanks from melting. The latest winter storm was blanketing the Midwest with snow and ice before moving on to New England, combining with another system to deliver a one-two punch Tuesday and Wednesday.

By now, some winter-weary residents are at last perfecting their pre-storm preparations, not putting much stock in whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow Wednesday morning at Gobblers Knob.

"It's a routine now. The night before, we move the cars to one section of the driveway so the plows can come through, we have shovels by either door, and we check on elderly relatives," said Rep. Larry Cafero, leader of the Republican minority in Connecticut's House.

But the weather has gone beyond nuisance, he said.

"This is really affecting commerce, our economy, the pace of business," said Cafero, who noted the legislative session scheduled for Wednesday had already been canceled ahead of the expected storms. "I can't tell you how many coffee shops and newspaper stands and retail stores are hurting. On top of the economy and everything else they're dealing with, the weather is killing them."

In the 1993 film, the dour weatherman played by Bill Murray breaks the loop after learning his actions can affect the outcome. For Northerners, the cycle may end only with spring.

"It's tough to know when it will turn off," said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. While the snowfall is far above normal, he said, the region sees similarly active seasons every five to 10 years, such as the record 115.2 inches that fell in the 1995-96 season.

For crews struggling to clear snow-choked roadways, the task has become more difficult with each storm, because there is less room to put all the snow.

On the bright side, Connecticut has already treated the roads with so much salt and calcium chloride that it reactivates when another storm hits, said Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the state transportation department.

"As a spokesman for the DOT, not doing manual labor, I haven't gotten much sleep," he said, "so you can only imagine what my guys are going through."

At least, unlike poor Phil, they're not jolted awake every morning by Sonny and Cher's "I Got You, Babe."

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In Woodstock, Ill., the impending snowstorm has forced officials to cancer the Wednesday's Groundhog Day festivities.

Willie's forecast will be read during the annual Groundhog Day breakfast, postponed until 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Pirro’s Restaurant, 228 Main St., in Woodstock.

For now, the mascot groundhog is "going to hunker down under the snow and stay warm," Bellairs said.

Woodstock is the site of the 1993 Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day." The corresponding ceremony has been held for about 17 years and has never been canceled save for one year it was relocated inside the Woodstock Opera House because of extreme cold.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Deep freeze, snow across U.S.

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  1. Irving, Texas

    This sculpture was iced over Thursday, Feb. 3, in Irving, Texas. (Eric Gay / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Miami, Oklahoma

    A pickup truck that plunged off this snow-covered bridge near Miami, Okla, on Thursday sits in the Spring River. Three people were killed and five others injured. (Gary Crow / Tulsa World via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Chicago

    The Chicago skyline is reflected on a thin layer of ice as a chunk of snow-covered ice floats in Monroe Harbor on Thursday. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Chicago

    Robert Brigs shovels snow on Martin Luther King Drive in Chicago on Thursday. (John Gress / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Iowa City, Iowa

    A car sits abandoned in the median of I-380 between Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Iowa City on Thursday. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Commuters brave subzero wind chills as they return to work Thursday in Chicago. This week's blizzard dumped more than 20 inches of snow on the city. (M. Spencer Green / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Racine County, Wisconsin

    A man walks behind high snowdrift in Racine County, Wis., on Wednesday. (Darren Hauck / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Auburn, Mass.

    Officials walk past a building that collapsed in Auburn, Mass., on Wednesday, Feb. 2, after days of heavy snow followed by rain. (Paul Kapteyn / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Elizabethtown, Pa.

    A fallen tree weighed down with ice sits on Old Hershey Road in Elizabethtown, Pa., on Wednesday. (Blaine Shahan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Milwaukee, Wis.

    This walkway to Lake Michigan was frozen over Wednesday in Milwaukee, Wis. (Jeffrey Phelps / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Chicago

    A commuter climbs over a snow bank to catch a bus Wednesday in Chicago. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Chicago, Ill.

    Hundreds of cars are seen stranded Wednesday on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. (Kiichiro Sato / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Chicago, Ill.

    Snow piles up on the driver's seat of a stranded Chicago Transit bus on Wednesday after the door was left open during the overnight blizzard. The bus was abandoned on Lake Shore Drive. (Kiichiro Sato / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Akron, N.Y

    Andrea Todd shovels snow from her driveway with her dog Myles in Akron, N.Y., on Wednesday. (David Duprey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Milwaukee, Wis.

    A wave sends large chunks of ice into the break wall at the Milwaukee Marina in Wisconsin on Wednesday. (Darren Hauck / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Iowa City, Iowa

    Downtown Iowa City, area near the University of Iowa, is a virtual ghost town on Wednesday. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Windsor, Conn.

    People stop along Interstate 91 in Windsor, Conn., to help push a car out of a snow bank on Wednesday. (Jessica Hill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Chicago

    Blizzard winds swirl the snow on an elevated train platform in Chicago early Wednesday. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Buffalo, N.Y.

    Frost forms on a window in Buffalo, N.Y., on Wednesday. (David Duprey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Salem, N.H.

    This car landed vertically into a snowbank after a multiple vehicle accident on Interstate 93 on Tuesday north of Salem, N.H. No one was injured. (Tim Jean / The Eagle-Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. New York City

    The Wednesday morning commute in New York City's lower Manhattan was an icy one. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Westfield, N.J.

    An officer blocks the road to prevent pedestrians and traffic from approaching a fallen tree branch and power lines in Westfield, N.J., on Wednesday. (John Makely / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Milwaukee, Wis.

    A cyclist tries to ride during the blizzard in Milwaukee, Wis., on Wednesday. (Darren Hauck / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Barre, Vt.

    A dog named Muldoon waits for its owner, who stopped for coffee on Wednesday in Barre, Vt. (Toby Talbot / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Chicago

    Men help push a car that got stuck in a snow on the Lake Shore Drive in Chicago early Wednesday. (Kamil Krzaczynski / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Milwaukee, Wis.

    Students from Marquette University in Milwaukee to go to the Union Building in blinding snow as a blizzard warning hits southeast Wisconsin on Tuesday. Marquette canceled classes for Wednesday. (Rick Wood / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Chicago

    Cross country skiers navigate through snow downtown Chicago on Tuesday. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Chicago

    Rush hour traffic crawls as blowing snow batters Lake Shore Drive in Chicago on Tuesday. (John Gress / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Columbia, Mo.

    A snow-and-ice covered Chris Gubbels pauses while walking his dog Tuesday in Columbia. Mo. (L.G. Patterson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Chicago, Ill.

    Snow falls on the Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as "the bean," in Millennium Park downtown Chicago on Monday. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. View from above

    This satellite image provided by NOAA shows the winter storm covering much of the U.S. on Tuesday. (NOAA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Fayetteville, Ark.

    A snow plow clears College Ave. in Fayetteville, Ark., on Tuesday as heavy snow falls. (April L. Brown / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Chicago, Ill.

    An approaching blizzard doesn't stop this fisherman Tuesday on Lake Michigan in Chicago. (John Gress / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Boonville, Mo.

    Trucks disappear into the white snow as they travel along I-70 on Tuesday near Boonville, Mo. (L.G. Patterson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Rogers, Ark.

    Postal carrier Tip Burnett uses a rubber hammer to open a frozen mailbox at the National Guard armory in Rogers, Ark., during heavy snow on Tuesday. (Flip Putthoff / Northwest Arkansas Newspapers vi) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Morning commuters in New York City make their way over a snow covered Williamsburg bridge on Tuesday. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Port Washington, Wisc

    Icicles form on a walkway along Lake Michigan in Port Washington, Wisc., on Tuesday. (Jeffrey Phelps / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Carmel, Ind

    A Bobcat is used to clear a parking lot of two-inch-thick ice in Carmel, Ind., on Tuesday. (Michael Conroy / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Lancaster, Pa.

    Icy patches made crossing the sidewalk in Lancaster, Pa., a challenge on Tuesday. (Richard Hertzler / Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Owasso, Okla

    Ila Dooley digs her car out to try and get to work on Tuesday in Owasso, Okla. Both of Oklahoma's major airports had to shut down due to the snow. (Mike Simons / Tulsa World via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. St. Louis, Mo

    Snow plows work to remove ice from Interstate 55 on Tuesday in St. Louis, Mo. A blizzard warning was in effect for the St. Louis area, as was a forecast for up to 20 inches of snow. (Tom Gannam / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Albany, N.Y.

    Snow was also falling Tuesday in downtown Albany, N.Y. Most of upstate New York was under a winter storm warning and Gov. Andrew Cuomo opened the State Emergency Operations Center due to a forecast of up to 2 feet of snow in some areas. (Mike Groll / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Denver, Co.

    A woman braces against the cold and blowing snow as she crosses the street in the financial district of downtown Denver on Monday. School officials canceled schools in Denver for Tuesday. (Ed Andrieski / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Pembroke, Mass.

    Scott Buchanan scrapes snow off the roof of his house in Pembroke, Mass., on Monday as his yellow Lab Charlie holds a snow covered ball in his mouth waiting to play catch. (Stephan Savoia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Lexington, Ky.

    Lexington, Ky., police and firefighters work at the scene of an accident after freezing rain moved coated roads there on Monday. A section of Georgetown Road was closed after two separate accidents involving five vehicles. Freezing rain turned the bridge into a sheet of ice. (Charles Bertram / The Lexington Herald-Leader via) Back to slideshow navigation
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Video: Storm slams Midwest, barrels east

  1. Closed captioning of: Storm slams Midwest, barrels east

    >> at oklahoma city where a state of emergency is in effect as the potent winter storm meredith talked about revs up.

    >> conditions will get worse throughout the day into tomorrow. more than a foot of snow is expected over a 2,100-mile stretch from texas to maine and some areas could get more than an inch of ice. 100 million people could be impacted. al made his way to chicago where the storm could break more than a 40-year-old record. good morning to you, al.

    >> good morning, meredith. this is a monster of a storm . more than 2,100-mile stretch of more than a foot of snow could fall over the next 48 hours . here in chicago , we are talking about a storm that could be one of the top three of all time. you can see the radar right now. so far, snowfall amounts anywhere from 10 to 15 inches of snow has fallen into the plains as this continues to really rack up the snowfall amounts. we are talking about bracing for a storm here in chicago that could break the record set back in 1967 . the snow's back and lots more is on its way. this massive storm began on monday as commuters in denver, colorado, had to fight snowy roads and ice on their wind chills. ice-slicked roads in omaha, nebraska had vehicles spinning their wheels and a school bus sliding. the snow blowers are out in force again. nearly half of the country under a weather advisory because of the massive winter storm . with missouri already in a state of emergency , st. louis residents hit stores monday to stock up. bags of salt and ice scrapers flying off the shelves.

    >> snow shovels are gone. anything that has to do with winter we are either low or running out of.

    >> it's the same story in chicago where residents rush to get ready for what could be an historic storm .

    >> visibility is poor.

    >> reporter: before it's over the storm could break chicago 's 1967 record when almost two feet of snow fell.

    >> we may be potentially dealing with a storm of historic proportions. we want to assure everyone in this city that we are prepared to handle this storm to the best of our ability.

    >>> we are under a blizzard warning in chicago . parts of nine states are under blizzard warnings. take a look at the maps. the storm will be causing problems here and also to the south it will be triggering very, very severe thunderstorms, the possibility of isolated tornadoes. as it moves to the north, frozen precip, mixed sleet, rain, snow stretching all the way into new england. we're talking two-day amounts of up to two feet of snow here in chicago . south bend could pick up almost two feet. 18 inches in detroit. albany will see 20 inches. kansas city up to a foot, foot and a half of snow. the cold air is a problem, too. the jet stream will be dipping way down to the south. the temperatures well below zero throughout the plains. wind chills make it feel worse. the afternoon highs in a lot of parts of the plains will not get out of the sub zero readings. of course, the other problem with the system is going to be ice. we're going to hear about that from mike seidel . matt?

    >> all right. al roker in chicago this morning. thank you very much. we'll get to the forecast in a moment. the weather channel 's jeff morrow is in oklahoma city . good morning to you.

    >> reporter: o good morning, matt. all that al was talking about, we've got it here in oklahoma city . it's a blizzard at times, winds gusting 20, 30 miles per hour. i will quickly step down here and into about a two-foot snow drift . out onto the main road this is meridian, a road that goes to the international airport which is virtually shut down. no flights in and out. it's pretty deserted. just a few cars from time to time. local officials, matt, are telling folks to stay off the roads. oklahoma city is virtually shut down. government offices closed, schools closed. they want everybody off the roads. in a situation like this with wind chills well below zero , if you get stuck it could be a life-threatening situation. hopefully this will start to improve later this afternoon. all of this mess, as al was talking about will be headed up toward the midwest and the northeast. back to you.

    >> jeff, be careful out there.

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