February 2, 2010 in City, Idaho

A forecast a groundhog would love

By The Spokesman-Review
On the Web
Weather:Washington | Idaho

Traffic:Street cameras

Highway information:Idaho | Washington | Montana | Oregon

Punxsutawney Phil predicts longer winter

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. – The groundhog has spoken on the East Coast. And it’s bad news. Punxsutawney Phil has emerged to see his shadow before chilly revelers in Pennsylvania, meaning winter will last another six weeks.

German tradition holds that if a hibernating animal sees its shadow on Feb. 2 – the Christian holiday of Candlemas – winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says spring will come early.

The Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club annually announces Phil’s forecast at dawn on Gobbler’s Knob, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Phil’s announcement came before hundreds of onlookers who huddled as temperatures hovered in the teens.

The Groundhog Club says since 1887 Phil has predicted more winter weather by seeing his shadow nearly 100 times, but there are no records for nine years.

– Associated Press

Groundhog Day dawned cloudy with a mix of rain and wet snow across the Spokane region in what forecasters said is a continuation of the relatively mild winter in the Inland Northwest.

Legend would have it that winter is coming to an end, and it appears the forecast is in synch with the myth.

At 7 a.m., it was snowing at Spokane International Airport and Deer Park and raining in downtown Spokane. Coeur d’Alene was cloudy. Snow was not expected to accumulate on roadways in lower elevations, but up to three inches of new snow may fall in the mountains of the region.

National Weather Service forecasters said light precipitation would continue through 10 a.m. or so and then subside by afternoon.

Patchy fog is being reported at a number of locations this morning. Visibility at the Spokane airport was down to a quarter mile at 8 a.m.

Fairchild Air Force Base, just five miles to the west, was fair with 10 miles of visibility at 8:15 a.m.

Fog will continue to be a problem in some locations tonight and Wednesday morning, forecasters said.

Two additional weak storms are expected on Wednesday night and Friday with rain in lower elevations and snow in the mountains.

To the south, fog was causing problems in the lower Columbia Basin and Yakima Valley where a dense fog advisory was issued.

Today’s weak storm system is just the latest in a series of storms that have circulated around a large low pressure area sagging into the subtropical regions of the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Air circulating around that low is being forced northward into the Inland Northwest, giving the region an unusually mild winter since the start of the year. The average temperature in January was 7.8 degrees above normal in Spokane.

The pattern is consistent with El Nino warming of the tropical Pacific, which causes the upper-level jet stream to gain energy across the ocean farther to the south than normal.

Temperatures at 7 a.m. were 33 at the Spokane airport, 36 in downtown, and 34 in Coeur d’Alene, Deer Park and Pullman.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email