Snow coming, and hints of a thaw

For a change the snow forecasts this time have remained fairly consistent, with the consensus of government and private forecasts coming in at 4 to 8 inches for the immediate Philadelphia area.

Computer models and meteorologists are in rare accord on the eve of the storm. "It's almost, like, scary, seeing such agreement," said Dave Dombek, a meteorologist with Accu-Wather Inc.

A few things have been tweaked. The models have slowed things down a tad, and it now appears that the snow will hold off until late in the day, and possibly until after the evening commute. 

Dombak said the real action will unfoled between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. "That's the storm," he said. Once the snow shuts off, expect significant blowing and drifting.

The National Weather Service winter storm warning for Philadelphia and Delaware Counties, South Jersey and northern Delaware is in effect from 2 p.m. tomorrow through 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Technically, a "watch" remains for the other suburban counties, although the forecasts aren't a whole lot different.

For the warned counties, the models are indicating more than enough liquid to accommodate at least 4 inches of snow -- the government's warning threshold.

To the west, less liquid is expected to fall, but since it will be colder, the snow-to-liquid ratios should be higher.

The Shore looks to get more precipitation, but temperatures there might be borderline, and some mixing is possible, which would hold down accumulations.

It should be quite cold the rest of the week, but temperatures should nudge toward seasonal normals during the Martin Luther King weekend.

The European forecast model then sees a decent storm passing to the west of Philadelphia, which would mean a warm-up. But the weather service's Mount Holly office says that's a "low confidence" forecast.

In its extended outlook the U.S. Climate Prediction Center is calling for above-normal temperatures in the 8-to-14-day period, but cautions that the forecast is "very uncertain."