Both Punxsutawney Phil and the AccuWeather Global Weather Center agree — winter weather will linger longer than usual in the Pacific Northwest.
The Northwest can expect wintery conditions into March, with more precipitation than usual, according to AccuWeather.
The next winter woe Tri-City residents may have to deal with is icy roads Thursday morning after a night with rain, possibly mixed with freezing rain, forecast for the Mid-Columbia.
Some agencies announced late openings Thursday morning. Employees were sent home early Wednesday as about three inches of fresh snow and a sprinkling of freezing rain fell.
Benton-Franklin Health District offices, the Franklin County Courthouse and Charter College are among agencies that will not open until 10 a.m. Thursday.
The Finley and North Franklin school districts announced early Wednesday evening that school would start two hours late Thursday.
For more information on school delays, closures and bus route changes, check at bit.ly/snowdelays.
A winter storm watch issued by the National Weather Service is set to expire at 10 a.m. Thursday, with rain possible through the rest of the day.
Thursday 50 percent chance of rain in Tri-Cities
Friday mostly cloudy in Tri-Cities
Saturday mostly sunny in Tri-Cities
The Tri-Cities temperature could reach 38 degrees by 5 a.m. and then 42 by later in the day, ending a run of days with high temperatures mostly near or below freezing.
The next hazard the Tri-Cities may have to deal with is minor flooding from rain and snow melt. Major rivers, including the Yakima, are not expected to flood, but a quick snow melt may leave standing water on roads and in low-lying areas.
Warmer temperatures may not last long. Highs could be in the 40s Thursday through the weekend — with the added bonus of sunshine Saturday and Sunday.
Then highs are expected to drop back to the mid-30s until at least Wednesday, according to early predictions of the weather service. Normal highs for the Tri-Cities in February are in the upper 40s.
The Tri-Cities should get at least a short break from precipitation for several days. No rain or snow is in the weather service’s early forecast for the Tri-Cities from Friday through the middle of next week.
On Wednesday, Mid-Columbia law enforcement officers and tow companies were kept busy responding to crashes and spin-outs, starting with the morning commute. Interstate 182 had one to two inches of fresh snow and several crashes were reported between Pasco and Richland.
Several rural roads in Benton County that closed Tuesday remained closed on Wednesday. Benton Fire District 2 reported closures that included Locust Grove Road from Clodfelter Road to Plymouth Road and sections of Sellards, Webber Canyon, County Well and Plymouth roads.
42 degrees forecast high Thursday in Tri-Cities
44 degrees forecast high Friday in Tri-Cities
41 degrees forecast high Saturday in Tri-Cities
Most Tri-City area schools canceled after-school activities, including sporting events. The Kennewick School Board canceled its Wednesday night meeting and rescheduled for Monday.
Most Hanford workers were sent home in the late morning and Washington State University Tri-Cities and Columbia Basin College canceled afternoon classes. Most area libraries either remained closed all day or closed early.
A snow slide near Wild Cat Creek closed Highway 12 over White Pass in both directions about 11 a.m. Wednesday.
The highway was closed from the junction with Highway 123 and the Oak Creek feeding station.
More snow slides in the afternoon had state officials saying the highway would remain closed overnight.
The Oregon Department of Transportation reminded drivers that it is illegal to pass a snowplow on the right on state highways and unsafe to pass plows on the left while they are removing snow.
As snow is stirred up, it may be difficult for drivers behind the plows to see wing plows that can extend on both sides to clear two lanes at once.
Plows should periodically pull over to allow traffic to pass, but drivers can count on road conditions ahead of the plow being much worse than conditions behind them.
The Yakima Herald-Republic contributed.