Snow: Forecast gets whiter

A storm bearing some meteorological similarities to the great blizzard of 1888 has the potential to hammer the region with high winds and several inches of snow on Thursday, starting just after midnight.

"It looks like it's going to be a doozy," said Andrew Ulrich, a meteorologist with Accu-Weather Inc., in State College. It may have major impacts from the northern mid-Atlantic to New England.

The storm is forecast to migrate from the Gulf to Florida's Atlantic coast and then move up the Eastern Seaboard, as nor'easters are apt to do.

But this one will be different, said Ulrich. It is forecast to come inland, with its center passing right over New York City. 

The storm is going to get a jolt from a fresh batch of Arctic air, and its powerful winds will drag some of that cold air southeastward toward Philadelphia. Winds circulate counterclockwise around storm centers, so areas to the west are on the cold side.

Accu-Weather is now calling for 3 to 6 inches for Philadelphia, with a potential for more. The forecast, however, is a dicey one. A slight change in the path could mean the difference between another mega-storm and a non-event.

The accumulation outlook is even dicier for New York City, which could wind up right on the boundary of the warmer and colder air as the storm's center makes a close pass.

Ulrich said it's possible that New York's northern suburbs end up getting buried, while midtown Manhattan winds up with very little.Boston could end up on the warm side, and it might rain along the New England coast, said Ulrich.

The blizzard of 1888 followed a similarly strange path. That one left 10 inches in Philadelphia, and 2 feet in New York City.

For this one, the winds are more of a certainty than the snowfal. Gusts up to 60 m.p.h. are possible in central Pennsylvania, and 30 to 40 m.p.h. in the immediate Philadelphia area.