What is already being called the Groundhog Day Winter Storm of 2011 has forecasters across the U.S issuing warnings. Jonathan Erdman, a Senior Meteorologist at Weather.com, says that people should “Take this storm very seriously.”

The forecast calls for this winter storm to affect a huge 2100 mile swath across the country, possibly dumping a foot or more of snow from Texas all the way to Maine, as it advances across the Eastern U.S.

Forecasters say that it’s not just the size of the storm, but also the duration, that may make it one for the history books. It’s expected that there will be several waves of bitter cold, wind, and ice, over the course of three days.

Forecasters are also warning of damaging wind, hail, thunderstorms, and the potential of tornadoes, as this storm makes its way across the Southern U.S.

The storm is expected to hit the Plains and Midwest Monday evening, and be strongest in that region on Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), Blizzard Warnings are have already been issued over parts of Illinois and Indiana. Winter Storm Watches and Winter Weather Advisories have been issued for the Midwest and portions of the Northeast U.S.

Groundhog day is February 3rd (Wednesday), and is, of course, very weather dependent. According to legend (and groundhog.org), if the sun is shining and Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be 6 more weeks of winter weather. If he doesn’t, there will be an early spring.

Wednesday’s forecast for Punxsutawney, PA? Rain, snow, and a high in the 30’s. Looks like an early spring!