Yes, this rare storm has changed its track and, yes, we are dodging the worst this storm has to offer. But it's still a significant snowstorm to be reckoned with.
Heavy snow is going to be the problem for the Lehigh Valley and the Pocono mountains. Philadelphia and its suburbs will still have some snow, but the strong, gusting winds will be more of a concern.
"Parts of our area will still see a good bit of snow and the whole area is seeing a lot of wind," meteorologist Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz says. "But this is clearly not turning into a major storm in the Philadelphia area."
Temperatures dipped below freezing as night fell Thursday, allowing the snow to begin to stick to roads and hard surfaces.
"Bands of heavier snow will continue to spin around the low pressure center, leading to quick accumulations in some areas," he says. "The peak of the storm should last into at least part of the A.M. rush."
The winds will continue to increase as the storm intensifies overnight, bringing gusts of up to 50 m.p.h. This may be the bigger issue in Philadelphia and the suburbs where the strong winds could topple trees and power lines.
The north and west will still see the higher accumulations. Some spots in the Poconos aready have more than a foot on the ground as of 11 p.m.
Also, a Winter Storm Warning and Wind Advisory remains in effect for most of the area until noon Friday.
Here are a few accumulations:
- Pocono Summit, Pa. -- 19 inches
- Easton, Pa. -- 4.8 inches
- Allentown, Pa. -- 7.5 inches
- Mount Laurel, N.J. -- 2.9 inches
- Philadelphia -- 1 inch
Here's what you should expect in for the morning rush and the latest snowfall predictions:
|10 p.m. Thursday - 7 a.m. Friday||Heaviest Snow/Wind|
Winds 30-40 m.p.h.
Gusts up to 50 m.p.h.
|7 a.m. - Noon Friday|
Snowfall Lightens Up
|Noon - Friday evening||Light Snow|
Winds 15-25 m.p.h.
Gusts up to 35 m.p.h.
|Extreme Southern Jersey and Southern Delaware||Less than 2 inches|
|Wilmington, Del. and parts of South Jersey||3 to 5 inches|
|Philadelphia, some Pa. suburbs and northern sections of South Jersey||4 to 8 inches|
|Lehigh Valley and Trenton||8 to 12 inches|
|The Poconos||12 to 20 inches|
WHY THE CHANGE
Now, let's get a little explainer as to how this major storm went from crippling to significant for most of our area.
The track of this fourth big storm of the season was tricky to predict from the start. As late as Wednesday, the storm was set to strengthen out at sea and then move back east -- an atypical action, but possible -- before hooking around.
But the storm moved further out to sea than expected, shrinking the heavy snow area and extending the timeline, Glenn says. A hard to predict storm, changing direction -- who would've thunk?
"These storms also have sharp contrasts in snow amounts over a short distance, making the slightest difference in the track significant," he said.
What didn't change is that the northern and western suburbs -- Lehigh Valley and Poconos -- will see the worst. Snow covered roads will be the norm in the morning.
In the Philadelphia area, the morning rush will also be a little dicey with slushy surfaces on major roads, so it'll be best to take your time.
But this is nothing like the past three storms and the fact those systems hit their mark, may have helped fuel the feeling that this storm was going to cause so much trouble.
Another factor that leads to lesser snow amounts this time of year is the angle of the sun, says Glenn.
"As we get towards March, the sun's higher in the sky, the sun's rays are stronger and it takes a lot more to overcome for the snow to stick on the roads," he says.
"It's gotta come down real hard or its gotta be real cold for it to stick on the roads."
This storm proves to be a great example of how the sun can affect snow accumulations. Light snow fell for 18 hours straight in Philadelphia since arriving and by late Thursday there was only officially 1 inch of snow on the ground.