By Kate Bilo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  We’ll enjoy cold but quiet weather for the first day of 2014, and then everything changes as two areas of low pressure set their sights on the area. The time period to watch is from Thursday afternoon into the first half of Friday. Either way, we’ll get some snow and rain, but the all-important “how much?” question remains to be answered.

The issue is that we’re dealing with two separate lows that need to fuse in order to bring a major snowstorm to the Delaware Valley. As of right now, we have better-than-average confidence that at least part of the area will receive accumulating snow on Thursday or Friday, but the potential for a major snowstorm (read: 6+” in spots) does exist.

One storm is a clipper moving in from the west. This storm will produce snow in a swath from the Midwest into our area, especially the North and West suburbs on Thursday. Behind the clipper lies an area of brutal arctic cold – in fact, some spots across the Northern Plains will be locked in sub-zero temperatures for days. The other low is a coastal system that will bring abundant moisture and warmth up the coast. If these two storms time out perfectly and join forces, we’re talking about a lot of moisture coupled with a pool of fresh, cold air, and an area of cyclogenesis, or storm formation, just off the coast of New Jersey. This scenario could lead to a major snowstorm across the Delaware Valley with as much as 4-8″ of snow, mainly falling early on Friday. We currently have two reliable computer models showing this scenario.

The other scenario is that the two storms just miss each other, which would mean some snow Thursday from the city north and west, and the chance for rain late Thursday into Friday for coastal areas. It would still be a storm, but not of the same magnitude as a major nor’easter, and could result in a zone where nothing much happens depending on the two different tracks. This remains a possibility and is still being shown on several other computer models.

The Eyewitness Weather Team is keeping very close tabs on this developing situation and we will continue to provide updates on TV, online and via social media. The takeaway is that we have to plan for nasty weather and travel conditions from at least late Thursday into early Friday, and cannot rule out the potential for heavy snow. Behind the storm, the arctic blast will be unleashed on us, with temperatures on Friday struggling to make it out of the teens. Not the most fortuitous start, weather-wise, to a brand new year!

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