Forecasters dismiss ‘early spring’

Two records for daily warmth set in January, but none for cold

A semi-truck heads north through whiteout conditions on Thursday along Interstate 39 in Stevens Point, Wis. Prolonged springlike warmth is unlikely to arrive in the Midwest until mid-April, forecasters say. (AP photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, but professional forecasters aren’t joining in.

A long-range forecast from the Climate Prediction Center calls for just a 15 percent chance of above-normal temperatures across the Upper Peninsula in February, followed by normal trends for March and April.

An active southern storm track may hold back any significant warmth from reaching the Great Lakes region into early March, according to the National Weather Service.

“The Midwest is set to endure reinforcing shots of cold from Canada for the remainder of the season, reminding many that spring is still several weeks off,” AccuWeather’s Jillian MacMath said. “In the Midwest and much of the Plains, prolonged warmth will arrive in mid-April, save for the earlier odd spell of springlike air.”

At Iron Mountain-Kingsford, temperatures in January averaged 11.1 degrees, which was nearly 3 degrees below normal. The coldest readings came during severe weather at the end of the month, with lows of minus 22 on Jan. 25, 26 and 31.

A mild early January — including record highs of 48 degrees Jan. 4 and 44 degrees Jan. 5 — kept the average temperature for the month nearly 10 degrees above the record cold of 1.4 degrees set in 1994.

Despite the late-month freeze, daily records for minimum temperatures remained intact, including the all-time lowest January reading of minus 35 on Jan. 24, 1948. The coldest readings ever for Iron Mountain-Kingsford are 39 below zero, observed on Feb. 1, 1938, and Feb. 4, 1996.

Snowfall in January measured 12.2 inches, nearly 2 inches below normal, but water-equivalent precipitation was slightly above normal at 1.41 inches.

The snowfall total from November through January at the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Wastewater Treatment Plant was 24.7 inches, about 9 inches below normal. February might make up for that, however. The monthly normal of 11 inches of snow has already been reached in the Dickinson County area and more is predicted next week.

On Saturday, Punxsutawney Phil came out of his burrow in Pennsylvania at sunrise and didn’t see his shadow, which by legend signals an early spring. Over the past 50 years, the groundhog’s overall accuracy rate has been about 36 percent, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Tim Roche.

Jim Anderson can be reached at 906-774-3500, ext. 26, or