By Kate Bilo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The winter of over-performing storms continues, with a system that blasted the area today with well over half a foot of heavy, wet snow. Good news for the kids who have been bemoaning the lack of Good Snowman Snow this winter, but bad news for those who have to shovel it – this will be a workout and it can be dangerous, so make sure to take frequent breaks and don’t over-exert yourself out there.
The Winter Storm Warning for the area continues through 5 p.m., and we are seeing the back edge of the snow just now moving in to our far western suburbs, so things should quiet down through the evening. Unfortunately, back and side roads remain a mess, and with temperatures heading for the 20s tonight, we can expect a refreeze into tomorrow morning, meaning that the slippery conditions will persist.
Portions of our northern and western suburbs, including Chester County, Western Montco, Upper Bucks and into the Lehigh Valley may end up with near 10″ of snow before all is said and done, and some isolated higher amounts are still possible.
But once the snow stops falling tonight, we barely have time to catch our breath before the next system roars in tomorrow night. I am getting quite concerned about the snow/ice potential with the next system, mainly because of two factors: 1. timing and 2. snow cover.
The storm will arrive overnight and on to a fresh snowpack of more than 6″ in many spots, especially to the north and west. That means lower temperatures and will mean that instead of a rapid changeover to rain like we would see with the milder air coming in, some spots to the far northwest may not see much rain at all, just another heavy snow event with ratios around 10:1 or even down towards 8:1. A sliver of good news is that more snow means less ice, so that may help mitigate the threat of a widespread ice event for the northern suburbs.
But with the models trending colder, we are likely looking at another 6″+ of snow for the far north and west suburbs (especially the Poconos and Lehigh Valley) with a tapering of the snow amounts toward the city and the I-95 corridor. The snow could then mix with ice pellets and sleet for a time and the ice threat does still look potent in areas to our north and west.
In the city, as of now, it’s looking like perhaps a brief period of snow (maybe 1-2″), then the threat for ice, and then we do eventually transition to rain Wednesday afternoon. This type of storm is notoriously difficult to forecast as far as precipitation type because temperatures will be hovering so close to freezing and temperatures at the 850 level (higher in the atmosphere) are also marginal. A jog in the storm’s track by 25-50 miles can mean the difference between ice and rain, or between another significant snow and a changeover to plain rain.
Basically, the takeaway here is that Wednesday morning’s commute is going to be a gigantic mess, and the scope of that mess increases exponentially the further west of I-95 you go. We will keep you posted with the latest information on this system, and we’ll keep our eyes focused on another potential threat for the weekend – still not a lot of model consensus on that one, but we definitely have a good shot at more snow, rain or both, with the worst of it likely Sunday into Monday (but we can’t rule out problems Saturday either!).
I say blame the groundhog.