Winter to Continue?

Six more weeks of winter.

That’s what Punxsutawney Phil, the infamous groundhog with a knack for predicting winter’s demise, concluded early this morning. With all due respect to Phil, it’s also what La Nina—the weather pattern with a knack for extending Seattle winters into spring—determined a long time ago.

Punxsutawney Phil’s call for six more weeks of winter is likely to verify in Seattle this year, given that it’s a La Nina winter

La Nina winters tend to be cooler than average for Seattle, especially during February and March. So, Punxsutawney Phil’s “forecast” for winter to last six more weeks isn’t exactly what we’d call going out on a limb—for Seattle, at least—especially since six weeks from today only puts us at March 15. In recent La Nina years, we’ve seen accumulating snow in the metro area well past that date, including 2008, which saw sticking snow in both late March and mid-April. (It’s ok, Phil, you’ll do better next time!)

At the present time, however, our winter weather has largely abated. The snow, rain, and wind of the past few weeks have been replaced by clear skies, calm breezes, and mild temperatures. This is all due to a large ridge of high pressure that’s set up shop over the West Coast, shunting incoming storm systems well to the north. As long as this ridge of high pressure remains in place, our weather will remain unchanged from day to day—patchy fog in the morning, sunshine and temperatures around 50 degrees in the afternoon.

Long range models show this area of high pressure staying with us for quite some time—perhaps all the way to Valentine’s Day! The only fly in the ointment is Tuesday, when a weak front looks to sneak under the ridge and into Western Washignton, tossing up some light showers as it moves through. After that, high pressure will reassert itself over the region, leading to several more days of weather just like today…and tomorrow…and Saturday.

Did someone say “Groundhog Day?”