Storm threat: Thursday update

While the computer models continue their great debates, it is looking more likely that a winter storm will affect the region Saturday night into Sunday.

Atmospheric physics aside, we point to a couple of cultural clues. For one thing, the National Weather Service now includes a 40 percent chance of rain and snow in the wording for its Saturday night-Sunday forecasts.

For another, the American Weather Forums chat board is in "storm mode," meaning that the moderators are on the prow for "personal attacks" or "IMO" forecasts.

As a rule, you can't go wrong reading any of the posts bearing the "meteorologist" tag, and you'll find insightful comments by some of the non-meteorologists.

Once again, Mike Gorse at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly has an excellent summary of the state of the forecast in his morning discussion.

A juicy storm is expected to track out of the Gulf of Mexico, and as Gorse points out, some models want to blow it up into a powerful storm off the Midatlantic coast.

But right now it appears that the atmosphere is consulting Rube Goldberg, and for that to happen an improbabe sequence of events would have to unite the moving parts.

Arguing against such a solution are the winter of 2011-12 and common sense, which we must point out, frequently gets trumped by computer models.

The more-likely scenario is that the storm won't be a powerhouse, will slide off the coast to our south, and generate a period of mixed precipitation in at least part of the region. 

Any snow might have a hard time sticking. It's could go up to 50 Saturday, and although it will cool down at night, no truly cold air is moving in ahead of the storm.

As mentioned in some of the chat-board discussions, this could be similar to the Halloween-weekend event in which elevation made all the difference in accumulations.

Still, the models appear to be trending farther north with the precipitation shields, and a sloppy 2 to 4 inches in around Philadelphia remain a possibility.

And to invoke SEPTA and Amtrak, all this is subject to change without notice.