What We Know
A major snowstorm will hit the area Friday night and last into Sunday morning, with many parts of our area getting 10 inches or more snow. The storm will be even more severe in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore areas and less severe in New York City and Boston. This will cause a transportation nightmare for much of the East Coast.
The storm will start as snow, but not until after 6 p.m. Friday. Many roads will be pre-treated, so it might take until after midnight before conditions really go downhill. Travel Saturday is simply not recommended for most of the area, and the poor travel conditions may continue into Sunday morning.
Areas to Get Hit Hardest
This storm is a bit different from the typical winter storm, where our northern & western suburbs get the most snow, with less toward Delaware and New Jersey. The track of this one is a bit farther south than a “classic” track, so the heaviest snow should occur in parts of Delaware, Philadelphia, and much of South Jersey. This includes the counties of: New Castle, Kent, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia, lower Montgomery, lower Bucks, Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester, Camden, Burlington, and inland Atlantic.
The Biggest Questions
The most uncertainty comes at both ends of our area. In the Poconos and Lehigh Valley, the storm track may be too far south for the huge snow totals. And, at the Jersey Shore and Delaware Beaches, winds off the relatively warm ocean may change snow to rain for enough hours to keep snow totals down.
As of Thursday afternoon, a Blizzard Watch is in effect for the counties listed above that will get the most snow. There is a strict definition of "blizzard:"
1. Heavy snow
2. Sustained winds (or frequent gusts) of 35-plus mph
3. Very low visibility (1/4 mile or less)
4. These conditions exist for at least three-straight hours
A Blizzard Watch means those conditions are possible, mainly Saturday. A blizzard is more dangerous than a regular, big snowstorm. Cars can get stranded under blizzard conditions. No one should be driving during a blizzard unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Major Coastal Flooding?
There are three factors that could lead to major coastal flooding with this storm:
1. Strong pressure contrast from HIGH to the north and LOW south
2. Slow-movement of storm
3. Full moon (tides would be high even without a storm)
Some computer models have even suggested the potential for coastal flooding in South Jersey and Delaware Beaches close to that from Superstorm Sandy.
The red area right along the New Jersey coastline is about 50 mph. Gusts would be even higher. Onshore winds will occur over three-straight high tides, with the water getting higher for each one. By Sunday morning, major coastal flooding is possible along some of our beaches.
How Much Snow?
We will continue to update and refine the snow maps as the storm gets closer. But here is our latest map: