BLOOMINGTON - Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Thursday, and he might be partially right this year. Long-range forecasts show winter-like temperatures for the rest of February, according to Ed Shimon, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Lincoln.
But after that, the prediction that there will be six more weeks of winter could fall short of the truth.
March and April likely will have above-normal, spring-like temperatures, Shimon said.
Precipitation likely will be above average as well, Shimon said. That would be good news for drought-stricken Central Illinois.
Above-normal temperatures would fall right in line with what Central Illinois has experienced much of this winter. In January, the average high was 44.6 degrees and the average low was 30.9 degrees, according to Darcy Loy at Illinois State University.
The mean temperature for the month was 37.7 degrees - 11.5 degrees above normal. There were 10 days with temperatures topping 50 degrees, Loy said. It was 58 on Jan. 2 and 8.
While December had some cold temperature days, there also were a string of days in the 40s, and it was 52 degrees on Dec. 27.
The National Weather Service is predicting a shift from those mild temperatures over the next few days. Weekend highs only will reach the lower 30s, and lows will be in the lower 20s. That trend should continue through mid-week.
Shimon said that's typical of early February temperatures. Toward the end of the month, average high temperatures are in the lower 40s while average lows are near the mid-20s.
By the end of March, average highs are in the upper 50s, and by late April, they shoot up to the upper 60s. But if long-range predictions hold true, temperatures could be even higher.
While ISU recorded above average rain in January - 2.5 inches - snowfall was down dramatically at only 1.5 inches.
Bloomington-Normal usually sees 1.55 inches of rain in February and more than 3 inches in March and April, Shimon said.
According to German superstition, if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last another six weeks. If there isn't a shadow, spring will come early.