PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A rude winter awakening looms on the horizon in the form of a large and rapidly intensifying storm.
This is a system that can’t decide whether it wants to be a winter or springtime event, a trait often found in the climatically transitional month of March. As a result, the Delaware Valley will get a taste of both seasons.
First, we’ll see spring. Temperatures will still easily climb into the mid 60s Wednesday (and even flirt with 70 for some!). The bulk of moisture will come Wednesday afternoon through the late evening in the form of rain and some gusty thunderstorms.
The southwestern third of our area has a slight risk for storms to turn severe locally. An isolated tornado can’t be ruled out, but wind is the bigger and more widespread issue, with gusts peaking as high as 45 mph. Wind Advisories also take effect Wednesday evening for Philadelphia and counties to the west and south especially.
Later tonight, we see a harsh regression to the recent and cruel winter cold. Just how harsh? Here are a few ways to drive the point home:
1. The difference between the daytime highs Wednesday and Thursday will be about 35 degrees. Provided we hit that difference, it would be the second largest such plunge we’ve ever seen in the month of March.
2. Thursday’s high will barely hit the freezing mark. That’s NEVER a norm for Philadelphia. In fact, the coldest average low occurs in mid-January and is still 40 degrees.
3. You want shock value? In a span of about 12-16 hours, we go from the mid 60s (Wednesday afternoon) to wind chill values near zero. In other words, it may FEEL as much as 65 degrees colder in that short amount of time!
The bottom line: the legacy of this storm will be the gusty potential and the dramatic crash on the thermometer. That said, the side effect of rain followed by extreme cold is ice. Any leftover damp roads/bridges/sidewalks could easily freeze over and set us up for a slick Thursday morning commute.
Thankfully, this storm won’t put us back into a prolonged cold spell. We’re already rebounding from the worst of the chill by Friday, and we’ll continue to warm up into the weekend.