Punxsutawney Phil apparently got it wrong.
The groundhog famous for Feb. 2 prognostications predicted another six weeks of winter, but if his idea of winter is no snow on the ground and temperatures in the 50s, many Minnesotans will say bring it on.
“People are jealous of you,” said Liana Brackett, a meteorologist with the Atlanta-based Weather Channel. “It’s incredible to be having weather like this.”
While it is not unprecedented to hit 60 degrees in February — a possibility on Friday — it is rare. The mercury has hit that mark only four times in all the years since official Twin Cities weather records have been kept. For February, that means going back to 1873. Friday may mark a fifth time; a high of 59 degrees is forecast, but a strong sun could push the temperature higher.
As another major storm threatens to bury the Northeast under another foot of snow, severe weather pummels the Southeast, and the West Coast gets battered with drenching rain, sunny skies will prevail here.
A few ice fishing contests such as on Saturday in Big Lake, Minn. have been scrapped. Organizers of the Art Shanty Project say its festival on White Bear Lake will continue this weekend, although its Sunday 1 p.m. art car parade on the lake is in jeopardy of being canceled.
In a season that has already produced 15 named winter storms across the United States through mid-February, most have bypassed the Twin Cities. Here, instead of heavy snow and bone-chilling cold typical at this time of the year, the pattern will resemble April by the end of the week, as a large ridge of high pressure builds over the central U.S., pumping in mild air.
“It’s crazy,” Brackett said. “You are like the new California.”
Sunshine and temperature records are likely ahead for the weekend, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen. The forecast calls for a “cool” high of 46 on Thursday, followed by a 59-degree high on Friday and 54 Saturday through Monday.
Back in 1981, record highs were set on five consecutive days in the Twin Cities Feb. 16-20. For Thursday (Feb. 16), the record high is 60, which is unlikely to be broken. But the 55-degree record for Feb. 17 will likely fall, and there’s a good chance Saturday’s (Feb. 18) 58-degree mark and the 57-degree marks on Sunday (Feb. 19) and Monday (Feb. 20) could be eclipsed. The normal high for the five-day period is around 30.
The record high for the month of February is 64 set in 1896.
Brackett says no cold weather is in sight for the next 10 to 14 days, but there could be “a hint of winter” with a system late next week.