No matter what the groundhog says, expect cold

Marie Havenga • Feb 2, 2018 at 8:00 AM

The groundhog is expected to make an appearance today, but shadow or no shadow, he may wear a rodent parka and insulated gloves.

A polar vortex over the Hudson Bay is causing cold air from the North Pole to swoop down over our region.

“We're going to be on the fringe of that cold air,” said Ernie Ostuno, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids.

The sad part for Mr. Groundhog and us is that it will stick around for a while. We could be shivering in 20 degrees less-than-average temperatures for the next few weeks.

The arctic front is moving in with 20 mph winds and snow squalls.

Today’s high temperatures will only reach the teens. More lake effect snow — up to 3-5 inches — is expected Saturday and Sunday.

“Grand Haven will be windy and cold,” Ostuno said. “Temperatures will be tumbling and staying low (today). I don't think we'll set any records, though.”

Wind chills will be zero to 5 degrees today.

We'll catch a brief break on Sunday, as temperatures are expected to climb to near 30 degrees.

“They'll drop again Monday and Tuesday and it looks like it will be pretty much below freezing through much of the coming week,” Ostuno said.

Tuesday may also bring another 1-3 inches of snow, followed by more cold.

And it looks like Mr. Groundhog may want to stay hibernating, whether he sees his shadow or not.

“It looks like it stays cold for most of this month,” Ostuno said. “Probably at least for the next two-to-three weeks. We'll have spells that are 10, 15 and 20 below average temperatures.”

Next Wednesday and Thursday could feature wind chills of 10 below.

Ostuno reminds people to dress properly for the arctic blast.

“Cover your ears and face, and wear gloves obviously,” he said. “Your most susceptible areas are exposed to the wind.”

Snowfall is expected to be average to above average for the month of February.

“If you total it all up, it may be 20 inches or so,” he said. “But a lot of that will be lake effect snow, an inch or two a day. No huge storms are expected.”

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