By Kate Bilo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The storm is over, but the problems remain. In the wake of an ice storm that dumped up to a full HALF INCH of ice on portions of the region, many people are without heat and electricity. And with winds picking up behind the departing storm, more branches could come down and wreak further havoc, setting back the hardworking power crews that have been out trying to get things back up and running.
In addition to the outages, road closures remain due to downed trees and branches.
The good news is that we’ve got two dry, sunny days ahead; the bad news, those two days will stay sub-freezing, meaning the ice and snow isn’t going anywhere for a while.
Since last week, rumors have been swirling around social media about a “monster blizzard” bringing three feet of snow to the region. We attempted to dispel these rumors last week, but even this week, an old Gawker article from last February was recirculated, claiming a fresh possibility for 30 inches of snow in New York City. First of all, these rumors have never been true. Even the original model image that was posted assumed TOTAL snowfall across three storms. Secondly, it was way too soon to predict snowfall amounts.
We now have a better grasp on the weekend situation and it’s looking less and less likely that a monster snowstorm will form. In fact, while the threat for some snow is still in the forecast, it may not be anything that demands that “storm” designation. This weekend’s storm is dependent on two separate pieces of energy in the atmosphere – a weaker northern system, and a stronger southern piece. In order for a nor’easter to form and bomb out along the coast, there needs to be energy transfer from one system to another, a process we call “phasing”. And this has to occur before a certain point in order to get the biggest storms – the intersection of 40N latitude and 70W longitude, a point referred to as the “benchmark”. Without that phasing and the center of the low passing over the benchmark, you likely will not get an I-95 snowstorm measurable in feet.
This weekend looks like a case of missed connections. A zonal, west-to-east flow will set up across the nation, shunting the stronger coastal low out to sea while the weaker northern wave moves through our region. Without the phase of these two systems, we may see light snow and snow showers, but we’ll miss the threat for a major snowstorm. There is still some discrepancy in the models, mainly due to timing, but as of this writing, none of the major computer models we analyze have a major east coast storm this weekend. The latest run of the GFS does enhance the snowfall on Sunday night over our area, bringing 2-3″ to some spots, but even that is a far cry from “major storm”.
So while things remain to be seen and we have to keep a weather eye on the dynamics this weekend, the setup is looking less than impressive. In the wake of two crippling storms this week, that has to be some good news for folks that are becoming increasingly more winter-weary by the day.