By Kate Bilo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Heavy snow and rain is pushing in overnight as temperatures plummet, and this will lead to a very nasty Thursday morning commute across the area. Many schools have already cancelled for the day, including Philadelphia Public and Archdiocesan schools.

The storm will be moving in by around 2:00 a.m., and it’s a fast mover.

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I expect most of the precipitation to be clearing the coast not long after noon. For those of us in the city of Philadelphia and points south and east, this will start as rain with temperatures likely still in the 40’s as the precipitation arrives.

If you’re in the Lehigh Valley or far NW suburbs, this will start as snow and stay snow for the duration, leading to higher totals there.

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As we’ve been saying all week, timing is crucial with this system. The fact that it’s moving in a bit faster may mean more rain on the front end before the changeover, but as the storm rapidly intensifies off the coast, it will pull down lots of cold air and lead to convective banding of snow. This works much the same way as a squall line in a thunderstorm – rapidly rising air causing intense precipitation rates.

In a storm like this, it’s possible the snowfall rates could exceed 2″ per hour, even with the threat for thunder. That means that even if it only snows hard for 2-3 hours, the snow will pile up and you’ll get your 4-8″ rather quickly. In areas farther north where we don’t have to watch that changeover line as closely, there is the potential for locally higher amounts of 8-10″.

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The heaviest of the snow will fall between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., with clearing around the noon hour. But the threat doesn’t end when the snow ends. Behind the storm, winds will intensify and temperatures will plummet, so everything will freeze solid late Thursday and Thursday night. Wind chills will be in the single digits overnight into Friday morning and we’ll have to be on the lookout for lots of black ice in the wake of the storm, and dangerous cold.

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Please be safe tomorrow!