PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” Both the National Weather Service and AccuWeather are prognosticating a very wintry Groundhog Day, just a few days before Punxsutawney Phil makes his own prediction.
Monday, the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh placed Jefferson and 11 other counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland under a winter storm warning, which began at 7 p.m. Monday night and runs through 10 a.m. Wednesday â€” just a few hours after Punxsy Phil should emerge from his stump to make his annual prognostication.
â€śIt does not look good, but I think itâ€™s one of those things, you just have to see what happens,â€ť Inner Circle President Bill Deeley said Monday.
â€śBasically, this thing could be a double batch,â€ť Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist at AccuWeather in State College, said Monday. â€śWeâ€™re confident it will bring mostly snow, and that is tonight into tomorrow morning. Part II could be tomorrow night into Wednesday. Thatâ€™s the one with the great concern with ice involved.â€ť
The NWS is calling for a quarter- to a half-inch of ice and three to seven inches of snow. Light snow as expected to begin late Monday, followed by a possible mix of sleet and freezing rain into his afternoon and into Wednesday morning.
Sosnowski said sleet would be â€śa better scenario,â€ť because it tends not to adhere to trees and power lines. Freezing rain, however, would not be advantageous for travelers coming to Punxsy.
â€śBut if itâ€™s a mix of both â€” sleet first, then freezing rain â€” it glues everything together, and itâ€™s stuff youâ€™ve got to rid of with a jackhammer.â€ť
â€śThe forecast is, it could be rainy, it could be sleety, it could be three to seven inches of snow,â€ť Deeley said. â€śWeâ€™ll just wait and see. Whatever we get, weâ€™ll take and complain about it and move on.â€ť
Of course, it wouldnâ€™t be the first time Groundhog Day has been jarred by adverse weather. According to the Groundhog Clubâ€™s Web site, the coldest event was in 1918, at 18 degrees below zero More recently, in 2004, the temperature was eight degrees.
Other years, there has been rain.
â€śWeâ€™ve done it one time in the rain,â€ť Deeley said. â€śThere were buckets of rain. It was like one of those deals. Everybody was just trying to stay high and dry.
â€śWe might be running plows and snow blowers 15 minutes before the prognostication,â€ť he said about this year.
Sosnowski said just a few degrees could make the different between snow, freezing rain and ice â€” or a combination of two elements.
Deeley said the weather will also affect the numbers in the crowd.
â€śI think itâ€™s gonna be whatever the weather is, is what Groundhog Day turns out to be,â€ť he said.