Snow: Benign start, wild night?

Light snow is falling throughout the region, and with temperatures near freezing, so far it is having a hard time sticking to the roads.

It is, however, already building on the trees, and that could become a major factor as we get deeper into the storm.

Although the snow is off to a somewhat slow start, it still looks to last over 24 hours, and for now the National Weather Service is sticking with its call for 8 to 12 inches in the city, a little less in South Jersey, and 12 to 16 in the northern and western suburbs.

That said, the storm is likely to over-perform in some areas, and under-perform in others, with Philadelphia right smack in the middle, said Tony Gigi, a weather service meteorologist in Mount Holly.

"The dust, or snow, won't settle until tomorrow," he said.

The problem is that this is an immensely more complicated storm than its predecessors, and unlike typical nor'easters, this one isn't forecast to do its worst damage here unti the storm center passes north of Philadelphia.

The computers are taking it on a track paralleling the coast, and then jogging it inland near New York, where it would then meander around and basically spin in place.

It would generate strong, cold north and northwest winds tonight into tomorrow, gusting up to 50 m.p.h., Gigi said. Look for roads to deteriorate after dark, and snow-burdened tree branches to come down. Extensive power outages are likely.

In the meantime, conditions are perhaps surprisingly benign this morning. But as we noted in the paper this morning, keep the candles and generators handy.