A commuter walks against blowing snow Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Chicago. Heavy, blowing snow is moving across much of Illinois as the state gets pelted by the latest round of winter weather. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
Thinking of going somewhere in your car early Thursday morning? Unless you absolutely have to be there, don't even try it.
"It's going to be a mess," said NBC10 First Alert meteorologist Bill Henley. "Getting around this morning should not be attempted."
By 6 a.m., up to six inches of snow could already be on the ground in the Philadelphia area. It's all part of a major nor'easter that continues to move through our area and won't be completely gone until early Friday morning.
The Nor'easter moved in Wednesday night around 9 p.m., bringing snow into Philadelphia, South Jersey and Delaware before spreading to the North and west suburbs.
Some of that snow changed to rain in parts of South Jersey and Delaware. However, the snow will continue to fall in Philly and its surrounding suburbs and will intensify going into Thursday morning.
"There won't be a morning rush," NBC10 First Alert Chief Meteorologist Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz said as he analyzed new forecasting models from the NBC10 First Alert Weather Center on Tuesday. "The driving conditions will be the worst Thursday morning."
Hurricane expects the "worst of the storm" to happen in the early morning and believes parts of the area, including the Philadelphia-area, could have at least a half a foot of snow on the ground by 6 a.m.
"We're still going to see the bulk of the snow at the beginning of the storm," Hurricane said. "Some parts of the area will have 6 inches of snow on the ground by 6 a.m."
Later on during the morning, the snow will change to rain in Philly and along the I-95 corridor.
"Temperatures will bump above freezing," Henley said. "Not a huge amount but just enough to add some water to snow and make it heavier to move, making for a messy situation."
During the afternoon, there will be breaks between the rainfall and snowfall in Philly while light snow will continue North and West.
WATCHING THE CHANGEOVER
The nor’easter has a lot of moisture associated with it and is already bringing in strong winds and heavy snow as well as heavy rain along the coast.
How much of one type of precipitation will fall in each area, however, will vary depending on where you're located, the storm's track and air temperature.
That changeover, Hurricane says, is the "key" to figuring out what issues each neighborhood will have to contend with during the storm.
"There are some places where most of the day is going to be rain and their issue is going to be heavy rain and potential flooding," he said. "It all depends on that changeover."
The temperature will play an important role in determining the snow-fate of much of the area. The mercury is currently below freezing and then it is expected to rise into the upper 30s throughout the storm. The faster -- or slower -- that happens will determine whether some areas get more or less snow. But, with the latter may come other issues like flooding.
The storm's potential prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Winter Storm Warning for most of the region -- with the exception of extreme South Jersey -- which will last through 1 a.m. on Friday.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter declared a state of emergency in Philadelphia that went into effect at 8 p.m. Wednesday night. He also canceled Thursday and Friday trash collection and said the city plans to collect trash as regular Monday despite the President's Day holiday.
Philadelphia public schools as well as Archdiocesean schools inside the city will be closed on Thursday, officials said on Wednesday.
Governor Chris Christie also declared a state of emergency for New Jersey, closing all state offices on Thursday for non-essential employees.
3 DIFFERENT STORMS IN ONE
The northern and western suburbs adjacent to Philadelphia, like Montgomery, Chester, Bucks and Mercer counties, are in the bull's-eye for the most heavy snow. Based on the latest data, those areas could see up to 14 inches in snow accumulations by the end of the storm.
Parts of the Lehigh Valley -- including Allentown, Pa. -- and the Poconos could also see the higher snowfall totals.
Hurricane says these areas are expected to see the least amount of changeover from snow to sleet, which will account for higher snowfall amounts.
In Philadelphia, South Jersey and Northern Delaware, at least 8 inches of snow is expected to pile up before the precipitation changes over to sleet and later rain during Thursday's morning rush hour. But if the temperature doesn't warm up fast enough, more snow will fall for longer and drive up the totals, according to Hurricane.
The further south and east you go, the less snow will accumulate. However, it will be replaced with heavy rain. The Inland and Coastal Jersey Shore and Southern Delaware are only expected to get between 2 and 4 inches of snow before the rain takes over. Flooding may be the bigger concern in these areas.
Areas to the south and east, including Philadelphia and parts of South Jersey and Delaware, will also see a lull in the storm around 4 p.m. on Thursday. However, our meteorologists say that won't mean the storm will be over. Another period of snow should hit around 8 p.m. Thursday before wrapping up around 1 a.m. on Friday.
Here's a general breakdown of how the precipitation should fall across the region: