Cold spell to continue in Esky

ESCANABA – While Escanaba may not have its own Punxsutawney Phil, an abnormally cold season has many residents concerned that winter may last another six weeks.

“We don’t put too much stock into the groundhog around here,” said Jason Alumbaugh, meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Marquette office.

While Alumbaugh notes there are some hints that the upper level ridge over Alaska and western Canada that has pushed cold air into the region may ease and temperatures will rise, nothing is certain.

“Some of the models look like it’s going to relax a little, but I wouldn’t take that to the bank,” he said.

A three-month temperature outlook from the National Weather Service predicts that between February and April temperatures have a near equal chance of being below normal, near normal, or above normal at 33 percent, 34 percent, and 33 percent respectively.

“Right now, in the next seven to 10 days out, there’s not much happening, (just) more of the same,” said Alumbaugh.

As the pattern of cold northwesterly air making its way into the region continues, temperatures are expected to remain cold. Another thrust of cold, northern air is expected near the end of the week plunging temperatures colder.

“We’re not done with the cold stretch by any means,” said Alumbaugh.

According to the Escanaba Water Plant, which maintains records of both temperatures and precipitation, the coldest day in January was the 28th with a low temperature of -18 degrees. Only four days in January had high temperatures above freezing.

Local snowfall has also been relatively high this season. As of Jan. 30, 50.55 inches had fallen in Escanaba according to measurements taken at the city water plant – greater than the total snowfall for eight winters since 1991. Snowfall totals recorded by the water plant are typically calculated from the first snowfall of the season until the end of March.

“Honestly, we haven’t had a lot of big systems,” said Alumbaugh, noting that much of the snowfall seen across the Upper Peninsula was the result of lake effect snow from both Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.

According to the National Weather Service, so far this year Gladstone has seen 45.6 inches of snow, Garden Corners has seen 59.6 inches, and Parent Bay in southern Schoolcraft County has seen 73 inches.

“It could be worse,” said Alumbaugh.

Other parts of the U.P. have seen even greater snowfall totals this season. To date Marquette has had 108.6 inches fall and places in the Keewenaw Peninsula have seen as much as 226.5 inches of snow.