Snows near record

While we wait for computer models to resolve their differences on the coming storm -- and for the atmopshere to have the last laugh -- we note that Philadelphia evidently is approaching a snow record.

Officially, a trace of snow was detected yesterday at Philadelphia International Airport, the seventh straight day snowflakes have been observed.

Not that the shovels and plows are getting a workout. The official total for the entire seven days stands at 1.2 inches, the seasonal total at an anemic 5.4.

Still, the persistence is bordering on historic significance. Rummaging through the period of record dating to the winter of 1884-85, the longest such streak we could find was eight days, from Dec. 19 through Dec. 26, 1935.

That brings to the storm you've probably heard something about already, the one that is suppose to turn southern New England into the White Mountains.

The snow forecast for the Philadelphia region is quite a complicated one, and everything hinges on how two systems interact, and where they do it.

Storms are depicted as two-dimensional swirling "L's" on weather maps. In reality, they are swirling, three-dimensional fluids that often behave unpredictably.

As as a storm gets cranking, it is all but impossible to predict precisely who will wind up under a maximum snow-growth region.

This one is all the more bedeviling because it will involve a variety of precipitation types around here.

The accumulating snow is expected to come from generous helpings of New England leftovers as the region is whipped by the storm's backlash.

The bulk of the snow is due to fall late Friday night into Saturday morning. Officially, the National Weather Service is calling for 1 to 2 inches in and around Philadelphia, or as much or more than fell in the last seven days combined.

But don't be surprised if that estimate gets bumped up later in the day, and a foot could land on the Poconos.

Right now, the timing calls for snow and mixed precipitation to begin late tonight or early tomorrow.

That would be the window for an eighth straight day of snowfall, matching the 1935 Christmas week extravaganza.

The precipitation would turn to rain during the day Friday, and then back to snow at night -- and that would mean a Day 9.