By Kate Bilo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A busy day here in the Eyewitness Weather Center as we track a storm that will be different from any other storm we’ve seen this season.
The difference being that this one is our first true, classic nor’easter, pulling in warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and moving up the coast. This storm will have all the hallmarks of a true nor’easter – howling winds, heavy snow, strong waves along the coast, and unlike the storms we dealt with in January that were all snow and high-ratio snow at that, this one will have mixing issues.
Mixing is really the key to this storm. If it starts as snow, then changes to rain, then back to snow, it’s difficult to accurately gauge snowfall totals because of the melting/compacting. In areas where it doesn’t change over to rain at all, we may be dealing with heavy, no-holds barred snow for hours – the heavy, wet, fat-flake variety. This is an incredibly difficult forecast because of the temperature regime – lots of cold early this week, but no big cold blocking high to the north.
Warm temperatures torching in with the storm, but a solid snowpack in place that will try to hang on to the cold. Mix line trying to move north, but heavy snow pulling down cold air from higher levels of the atmosphere. So many factors at play with this one that if it seems as though many of us have been cagey with snow amounts, that’s why. Someone in our area could easily see a foot of snow with this, if not more. Someone else may see a wet inch or two at the outset and then rain. It all depends on the storm’s path.
Right now, our forecast from yesterday still stands and we are sticking by it. 6-12″ from Philadelphia/I-95 corridor on north and west, with the chance for isolated 12″+ amounts in our western suburbs (looks most likely in Lancaster, Berks, Chester, up toward LV and Poconos). 3-6″ possible for interior South Jersey with a morning changeover to rain, and 1-3″ for coastal areas. For the coast, the bigger impacts will be heavy rain, strong winds, and high waves.
There will be the threat for some ice, but not as widespread as with our last storm. However, any weakened tree branches or power lines will be susceptible to the heavy wet snow and the strong winds that will accompany the storm. Areas that are still recovering from the ice storm may need to be on high alert again.
We will continue to keep you updated on the storm and for up-to-the-minute thoughts and model runs, you can always follow me on Twitter @katebilo.