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No Dice, Phil: More Winter for U.S., But Not Six Weeks

By By Meghan Evans, Meteorologist
February 06, 2012, 5:11:35 AM EST

The AccuWeather Long Range Forecasting Team thinks the longest stretch of cold is yet to come for the Great Lakes and Northeast, but spring will arrive early for many.

Phil saw his shadow for Groundhog Day 2012 in Punxsutawney, Pa., forecasting another six weeks of winter for the U.S.

"There is some winter left on the table, but not a full six weeks for most of the U.S.," responds Paul Pastelok, expert long-range meteorologist and leader of the Long-Range Forecasting Team, after Phil's prognostication.

Longest Stretch of Cold on the Way for Great Lakes, Northeast

The longest period of chilly weather so far this winter is still in store for the Great Lakes and Northeast. The cold snap is expected to grip these regions during week two into week three of February.

"Each day will be like deja vu, similar to the Groundhog Day movie... every day will be the same.... chilly," said Elliot Abrams, chief forecaster.

Temperatures will drop to 3-6 degrees below normal at the height of the cold stretch. It will be even colder compared to normal across northern New England, where the harshest cold will grip.

Along with the cold comes the potential for snow. Pastelok feels that there will be the potential for one or two big storms in the East during February. The best potential for significant snow will be across the Great Lakes and the interior Northeast and northern New England, while mostly rain is expected in the big East Coast cities.

The cold will ease with temperatures returning back to normal late in February across the Great Lakes and Northeast. Jack Boston, an Long Range Forecaster, added that it will feel more mild from the last week of February through much of March, with more frequent warm days in the East.

Wet at Times for Tennessee Valley into the Appalachians

On the southern edge of storms heading into the East, mostly rain will fall through February and through the middle of March.

More than one round of rain during February could lead to potential flooding across portions of the Tennessee Valley into the Appalachians.

Another Bad Severe Weather Season

With abnormally warm air across the Gulf of Mexico, February and March are expected to be active with severe weather.

"Deep cold air has not reached the Deep South yet, so the severe weather season is early," said Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski. Gulf water temperatures are warm as a result.

Any time the wind turns out of the south, warm, humid air is easily drawn across the Deep South. High humidity sets the stage for thunderstorms violent enough to produce tornadoes.

An above-normal number of tornadoes are anticipated with areas from Louisiana to western Georgia and Tennessee expected to be in the line of fire.

Snow Drought Continues for the Northern Plains

Snow will continue to be scarce across the north-central Plains through the middle of March. The lack of snowcover in the northern Plains has implications on river flooding during the spring.

"There will be lower chances of flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers," added Pastelok. This is good news following major flooding during spring 2011.

Farther south, spring will arrive even sooner for the western and central Plains with above-normal temperatures and mainly dry weather by the middle of February.

Flip-Flopping in the West

In the Northwest, the next couple of weeks will remain drier-than-normal in the Northwest. It will turn wetter with more mountain snow by late in February and March.

During the first part of February, it will stay dry in Southern California with some warm-ups. There may be a few storms that bring rain all the way to Southern California during the second half of February, but precipitation should still fall below normal for the month.

March will be dry across the Southland.

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