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Chicago forecasters and groundhog agree: 6 more weeks of winter

Punxsutawney Phil is held by Ron Ploucha after emerging from his burrow Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., to see his shadow and forecast six more weeks of winter weather. The prediction this year fell on the same day as Super Bowl Sunday.  (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Punxsutawney Phil is held by Ron Ploucha after emerging from his burrow Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., to see his shadow and forecast six more weeks of winter weather. The prediction this year fell on the same day as Super Bowl Sunday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

They don’t necessarily trust his method of prediction, but Chicago-area meteorologists think Punxsutawney Phil, the legendary Pennsylvania groundhog that on Sunday predicted six more weeks of winter, likely nailed the forecast.

The next 30 days are expected to have below-average temperatures and above-average chances of precipitation in the Chicago area, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Gino Izzi, who is based in suburban Romeoville.

Temperatures usually climb about 10 degrees throughout the month of February, with average lows in the teens at the start of the month usually reaching about 25 degrees by the end of the month.

But there’s still a chance we’ll see those sub-zero temperatures and snowfall that have hit the area in recent months.

“It wouldn’t be at all hard to imagine a couple more days of below-zero temperatures before the end of the month,” he said. “This is one of the worst winters Chicago has ever had in terms of temperatures and snow.”

In fact, as of Feb. 1, Chicago has had its eleventh coldest winter since officials started keeping track in 1884, according to the weather service.

This winter also ranks the fourth snowiest to date, with 51.1 inches of recorded snow dumped on Chicago since Dec. 1, Izzi said.

January alone had 11 days of sub-zero temperatures and marked the third-snowiest month ever recorded in Chicago, meteorologists said. The month’s totals reached 33.7 inches, surpassed only by January 1918, which got hit with 42.5 inches of snow, and January 1979, which comes in second place with 40.4 inches of snow.

“We normally only see about three of four days blow zero in January,” Izzi said.

Sunday’s Groundhog Day prediction was based on whether Phil saw his shadow — and he did. But keep in mind Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast hasn’t always been accurate.

Last year, the groundhog did not see his shadow, giving hope to thousands that spring would come early that year. At the end of February, temperatures were slightly above average, but by the end of March temperatures had fallen to below average, the weather service reports.

In 2012, Phil saw his shadow, but temperatures were higher than average at both the end of February and the end of March, according to the weather service.

Meanwhile, as temperatures fall throughout the beginning of the week in the Chicago area, more snowfall is forecasted Tuesday, Izzi said.

Temperatures Sunday night could fall to 2 degrees in Chicago, with wind chills making it feel like zero to 10 below, the weather service reports. And while Monday is expected to be mostly sunny, highs are in the teens.

Tuesday is forecasted to have high temperatures in the 20s, but “several inches” of snow accumulation is expected, the NWS reports.

“I’m sure this has got to stop by April or May,” Izzi said.

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