A furry rodent with giant front teeth saw its shadow in Pennsylvania on Sunday, damning us to six more weeks of winter — a prediction that seems plausible to weather experts in Chicago who went to school and studied such things.
Meteorologists at the National Weather Service station in Romeoville backed the amateur Groundhog Day prognostications of Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous groundhog in the world.
The next 30 days are expected to be colder than normal with above average chances of precipitation in the Chicago area, meteorologist Gino Izzi said.
The mercury will drop steadily this week. Monday will be mostly sunny, with temperatures reaching as high as 20 degrees and overnight lows ranging from 10 to 14.
High temperatures are expected to reach the 20s on Tuesday, when snow will return. Four to 6 inches are expected to fall throughout the Chicago area by Tuesday night. Counties south of Interstate 80 could see 8 to 10 inches of snow, according to the weather service.
In February, average lows normally rise throughout the month from about 10 to 25 degrees but that might be foiled this year by yet another round of subzero temperatures and snowfall.
“It wouldn’t be at all hard to imagine a couple more days of below-zero temperatures before the end of the month,” Izzi said. “This is one of the worst winters Chicago has ever had in terms of temperatures and snow.”
As of Feb. 1, Chicago has had its 11th-coldest winter since officials started keeping track in 1884, according to the weather service.
“I’m sure this has got to stop by April or May,” said an optimistic Izzi.
This winter also ranks as the fourth-snowiest to date, with 51.1 inches of recorded snow dumped on Chicago since Dec. 1, Izzi said.
January alone had 11 days of subzero temperatures and was the third-snowiest month recorded in Chicago, meteorologists said. The month’s totals reached 33.7 inches, surpassed only by January 1918, which got hit with 42.5 inches of snow, and January 1979, which comes in second place with 40.4 inches of snow.
“We normally only see about three of four days below zero in January,” Izzi said.
But keep in mind: Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast hasn’t always been accurate.
Last year, the groundhog did not see his shadow, giving hope to thousands that spring would come early. It did not.
Contributing: Sam Charles