The second major snowstorm of the season is on its way.
It’s rare that the National Weather Service issues a blizzard warning 24 hours before the first flake of snow but that’s what happened Thursday.
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A Blizzard Warning was issued for Delaware beaches, and Coastal South Jersey. Towns including Dover, Del., Rehoboth Beach, Cape May, Long Beach Island, Millville and Atlantic City were included in the warning that was set to begin at 4 p.m. Friday and last through 7 p.m. Saturday.
The storm is still in the Gulf of Mexico, but all signs continue to point to it tracking to the North Carolina coast and becoming a strong Nor'easter by Saturday.
The seasonal trend of "backward snowstorms" looks like it should continue, with areas south of Philadelphia getting more snow than northern areas.
The snow should move in between 4 and 7 p.m. Friday, with the heaviest snow falling from 10 at night until 8 the next morning. During that period, snow could be accumulating an inch an hour or more in the hardest hit areas. Here's a breakdown:
|Friday 5 p.m.||Snow begins|
|Friday 10 p.m.||Snow becomes heavy|
|Saturday 2 -7 a.m.||Heavier snow and strong winds|
|Saturday 7-11 a.m.||Heavy snow transitions back to steady snow|
|Saturday Evening||Back to light snow|
Also, winds could continue to increase overnight, leading to blizzard conditions in southern Delaware and coastal New Jersey by Saturday morning. That means winds would be sustained at 35 m.p.h. or more for three-plus hours -- while visibility remains low.
Snow should continue through much of the day Saturday in much of the area, but it shouldn’t be as heavy.
Snowfall totals could range from about six inches in the Lehigh Valley to 18 to 24 inches in much of Delaware and extreme South Jersey. Blowing and drifting snow in the hardest hit areas could make it even more difficult to drive.
|Extreme South Jersey and most of Delaware||16-24 inches|
|Parts of Philadelphia, Wilmington, Del., parts of South Jersey, Delaware and Chester Counties||12-16 inches|
|Northeast Philadelphia, Montgomery and Bucks Counties and Central Jersey||8-12 inches|
|Lehigh Valley||4-8 inches|
|Poconos and Above||1-4 inches|
The heavier nature of this storm versus the December storm could cause the snow to stick to the trees, making limbs vulnerable to the strong winds.
Power outages could also be possible in the hardest hit areas.
The Earthwatch forecast matched closely with the National Weather Service's estimates. The NWS agreed that up to 24 inches of snow are possible in areas of southern N.J. and Central Delmarva.
The rest of the area was put mostly under a Winter Storm Warning by the NWS.
Starting around 6 p.m. Pennsylvania counties including Philadelphia, Berks, Lehigh, Northampton, Chester, Montgomery, Bucks and Delaware could get hit with anywhere from eight to 12 inches of the white stuff, said the NWS.
Things could be worse in New Castle and parts of South Jersey where NWS Winter Storm Warnings are calling for 12 to 18 inches of snow starting around 4 p.m. on Friday.
Things could change as the storm approaches. Stick with NBCPhiladelphia and the Earthwatch team for the latest on the potential winter storm. And, email us with any questions you may have for our meteorologists.