Sunday, August 10, 2014
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Bolaris: Nor'easter still on track: heavy snow, ice, rain

File photo. (Yong Kim / Staff)
File photo. (Yong Kim / Staff)

A brain buster of a forecast will keep your meteorologist up all night and twisting until this nasty storm moves away sometime on Thursday night. We have a ways to go in figuring out the exact outcome of this latest punch by this wicked winter of 2013-14. 

So far this winter, 43.3 inches of snow have fallen, making it the 11th snowiest of all-time and as Casey Kasem would say, number eleven and still climbing the charts. Back in November I wrote that this winter could be similar to the winter of 1960-61 when we got hammered with 49.1 inches of snow, by Thursday that can become a reality, with this winter moving in as the fifth snowiest in Philadelphia history. 

Set-up

A complex storm system will emerge from the Gulf of Mexico and be near the North Carolina coast by noon Wednesday. Northern and southern energy should act in unison to help feed and intensify the storm as it heads SLOWLY up the Eastern seaboard. As of Tuesday morning, computer models are still having a very difficult time in analyzing the extent of the storm and determining just how much snow vs. rain will fall.

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  • This is what I know: the front and back end of the storm will dominate as snow. What happens in the middle is still up for grabs because of the uncertain location of the rain/snow line, and therefore the highest amounts of accumulation will take place. Models overall have been leaning toward a colder solution with just west of I-95 setting up to be the transition line from snow to mix..

    At this hour I would say the all-snow line stays on a line from just east of West Chester (meaning all snow in West Chester and all points west) and then buckles up into the Plymouth Meeting/Norristown region as those locations go to a mix by late morning or midday Thursday. Warminster to Doylestown and east to Trenton should remain in the all-snow belt. Southeast of those areas will mix.

    Also at odds right now is just how significant the wraparound effect will be, that is the extent of snow in the backlash. In some models, the snow lingers through the night; yet others cut it off sharply after 7 p.m. This is an aspect of the storm that should come to light by late today.

    Right now, I'm still going with a full-fledged Nor'easter complete with heavy wet snow, sleet, some freezing rain and rain to start moving in by late Wednesday night. Winds will howl and the roads once again will become extremely hazardous by the Thursday morning commute.

    Timing

    Light snow arrives between 10 p.m. and midnight Wednesday.

    Overnight: snow becomes steadier and heavier and accumulates rapidly.

    Several inches of snow will be on the ground by 7 a.m.. Generally 2-4 inches.

    The breakdown

    CITY

    Midnight to 7 a.m. snow; 2-4 inches by 7 a.m. Thursday.

    7 a.m. - noon: snow starts to mix with sleet and rain toward noon.

    Noon-4 p.m.: mix should go to rain.

    4-7 p.m.: rain goes back to snow.

    Ends between 8 p.m. and midnight Friday.

    Total accumulations: 6-8 inches

    NEW JERSEY

    From I-295 and points west to the city, anticipate the same as city, with generally 6-8 inches, including west Camden, west Burlington, west Gloucester and west Salem counties.

    East of I-295 to the Garden State Parkway, expect 4-6 inches.

    From Mercer County, cutting across north Burlington to inland Monmouth, 8-10 inches.

    South Burlington County: Western side, 6-8 inches. Southeastern side, 4-6 inches.

    Beaches: under 2 inches.

    Tidal flooding will take place during two cycles along the shore points.

    EASTERN MONTGOMERY, EXTREME EASTERN CHESTER AND LOWER BUCKS

    7-9 inches.

    ALL-SNOW AND BIGGEST IMPACT

    Most of Chester County from West Chester and all points west, 8-12 inches. Chester County has the best chance of reaching a foot of snow.

    Western Montgomery, Upper Bucks: 8-12 inches.

    Berks County: (Eastern side, 8-12 inches; western side, 6-8 inches)

    Delaware County, 6-8 inches

    Lehigh Valley: could be a sharp cut-off forming here with lesser snow amounts. For now, going with 6-8 inches.

    DELAWARE

    New Castle: 6-8 inches

    Kent: 4-6 inches

    Sussex: 2-4 inches

    In summary

    The atmosphere is in a state of flux and will adjust accordingly.

    Time to get a little sleep.

    John Bolaris

    John Bolaris For Philly.com
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