Phil predicts 6 more winter weeks

It’s been 118 years since famed groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, made his first Groundhog Day weather forecast from Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. On Sunday the large rodent reportedly saw his shadow again which, according to legend, means another six weeks of winter weather.

The prediction was not something Marietta resident Ryan Dyer wanted to hear.

“It’s unfortunate, but he’s been wrong before,” Dyer said as he washed salt and mud from his pickup truck at a local car wash Sunday.

After a January that included two cold waves with temperatures dipping below zero, he was ready for the weekend’s weather with highs in the 50s Saturday and in the 40s on Sunday.

“I guess I’m more of a tropical weather kind of guy,” Dyer said.

Cars and trucks were lined up at car washes throughout the area Saturday afternoon.

Jeff Neader, who kept his Cone ‘N Shake drive-in hotdog stand on Pike Street open this winter, said last month’s bitter cold impacted the business.

“January business wasn’t too good,” he said. “But February started out just great-we had a good crowd all day Saturday.”

The break from winter weather didn’t last too long as rain that moved into the area Sunday was expected to turn into wet snow and sleet overnight, accumulating between 3- to 5-inches before the snow ends today.

Meteorologist Joe Merchant with the National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va., said a winter weather advisory had been issued for the Mid Ohio Valley area Sunday as temperatures dropped from the 40s into the 30s that afternoon.

“But this cold won’t be an arctic air mass like we had last month,” he said. “We might see some overnight temperatures in the teens later this week.”

Merchant said while January was definitely cold, last month’s mean low temperatures were still a good 4 degrees higher than the record cold during the winter of 1977 to 1978.

He said today’s high would be around 34 degrees, and Tuesday’s high temperatures should climb back up to about 42 degrees.

“On Wednesday it looks like there could be some heavier rain showers in that area,” Merchant said, adding that as of Sunday afternoon the weather service was not seeing a threat of flooding due to Wednesday’s rains.

Jennifer Wears of Fleming stopped off at the Marietta Walmart with her two children after church services Sunday.

“I want spring,” she said. “And I don’t put much trust in the groundhog’s predictions-it’s just an animal. I trust the good Lord.”

Brenda McCune of Marietta was tired of the cold.

“I hated that cold last month-my water pipes froze,” she said. “I want spring to be here now, but I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.”

Dean Ruble from the Wingett Run area said some almanacs are projecting even worse weather ahead.

“I don’t put much faith in the groundhog, but I’m hearing the almanac says we’ll be measuring snow by the foot instead of by the inch before the end of this month,” he said.

According to the Old Farmers Almanac, there could be some significant winter weather in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states within the first 10 days of February.

Belpre resident Roger Wilcoxen had also heard projections of heavy winter weather through the middle of next month.

“We’re supposed to get this same kind of weather through mid-March,” he said. “But I guess we can’t complain too much because this cold kills a lot of viruses and flu. Still, I do feel sorry for older folks and those who have lower incomes during this weather.”

According to the Associated Press, the National Climatic Data Center has performed a study and found Punxsutawney Phil’s annual forecasts are sorely lacking. The center has concluded the groundhog has “no predictive skill.”