Storm: Midday update

Having left the region with perhaps its most vigorous ice-scraping exercise since the icy winter of 1993-94, the light, frozen precipitation is shutting off.

The next batch of precipitation will be heavier and more-eventful, but questions remain as to precisely when it arrives and how much of it will be ice.

For now, the National Weather Service has a winter-storm warning still in effect for Bucks, Chester and Montgomery Counties, and a watch for Philadelphia and South Jersey.

It also has a flood-watch up for the Shore, where the precipitation should be all liquid rain.

The liquid amounts probably will be in the 0.50-0.75 range tonight into tomorrow, said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with Accu-Weather Inc.

The fresh rains, which were out in Illinois and western Tennessee this morning, may hold off until after the peak evening commute, although it may be close call.

It is forecast to become heavier later tonight and during the early morning, but all this could be simply a rainy non-event from Philadelphia south and east, said Kines.

More problematical are areas north and west of the city, where temperatures remain in the mid and upper 20s this morning and could be slow to crest freezing overnight.

The cold is likely to put up a fight, and significant icing is possible before all the precipitation turns to liquid rain sometime during the morning, and temperatures make a run at 40.

Obviously, a half inch of ice "would be a disaster," said Kines.  

Once the storm passes, it appears that a regular, unleaded February chill will settle in, with perhaps more wintry precipitation on the weekend.

Looking farther ahead, the overall pattern does show some signs of shifting, said Kines, suggesting that the winter of 2010-11 may be ready to take a more benign turn.