Winter warm spell begins in Western Pennsylvania
Punxsutawney Phil's prediction of six more weeks of wintry weather is looking pretty bad right now.
Pittsburgh's high temperature is expected to climb into the low 50s on Wednesday afternoon and the 60s on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service and State College-based AccuWeather.
The high will be in the 40s or better on 12 of February's remaining 13 days, the weather forecasting company said.
“I wouldn't give up too much on him yet,” said Punxsutawney Phil apologist Paul Pastelok, a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather. “This is going to be an impressive period of mild weather, but we still have some winter weather ahead of us.”
Pastelok noted that the weather-prognosticating groundhog is forecasting for the entire nation, and in many places his prediction appears to be spot on — average temperatures in areas of the Dakotas and Rockies have been about 14 degrees below normal, he said.
Pastelok said Western Pennsylvania's warm spell for the next two weeks could bring what has been a colder-than-usual winter back in line with normal.
Average temperatures were 2.2 degrees below normal from December through Tuesday, Pastelok said.
“It's been a little colder than expected, but with this warm-up, we'll probably end up being right near normal for the season by the end of February,” Pastelok said.
The National Weather Service is calling for a high of 64 degrees Thursday. That would rank as the fourth-warmest February day on record, according to weather service records stretching back to 1875.
Wet conditions also are in the forecast.
The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for Thursday for areas along the Monongahela River in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties, as well as along the Ohio River in Allegheny County and the Youghiogheny River in Fayette County. The watch means flooding is possible but not a certainty. The weather service said a storm is expected to drop 0.75 inches to 2.5 inches of rain on the Ohio River Valley region.
Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review assistant news editor.