Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Bolaris: Snow, sleet mix starts late Sunday; big problems Monday

Dave Moffett, 49, covers his minivan with a tarp after a large branch from an oak tree impaled the roof and windshield in his driveway on North Franklin Street near Virginia Street in West Chester on Feb. 5, 2014. An overnight freezing rain storm swept through the Philadelphia region leaving downed trees and power lines in its wake. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Dave Moffett, 49, covers his minivan with a tarp after a large branch from an oak tree impaled the roof and windshield in his driveway on North Franklin Street near Virginia Street in West Chester on Feb. 5, 2014. An overnight freezing rain storm swept through the Philadelphia region leaving downed trees and power lines in its wake. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Dave Moffett, 49, covers his minivan with a tarp after a large branch from an oak tree impaled the roof and windshield in his driveway on North Franklin Street near Virginia Street in West Chester on Feb. 5, 2014. An overnight freezing rain storm swept through the Philadelphia region leaving downed trees and power lines in its wake. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer) Gallery: Cold, hard facts: Philly's wild winter records

March is the most volatile month of the year weatherwise as winter and spring duke it out.

It's when winter transitions into spring and huge contrasts in air masses make for a nasty March cocktail. A battle zone of air masses results when lingering arctic fronts set up the dividing line between polar air colliding with spring-like milder temps. In this zone, you get massive outbreaks of severe storms and the tornado season launches, starting usually in late March and hits a peak by mid-late April.

But March in Philly has had some record snowstorms, including the infamous blizzard of 1888 when Philadelphia got smacked with 10.5 inches of snow along with winds approaching 80mph along the Jersey Shore.

And of course the very first "storm of the century" March 13-14, 1993, when we got buried with 12 inches of snow and sleet.

More coverage
  • Bolaris: The March lion will roar
  • John Bolaris' winter weather outlook: wicked
  • Join John Bolaris for a storm chat on Monday morning
  • March madness doesn't only apply to collegiate basketball but to meteorological March madness as well.

    Take a seat, you got a front row and let me try to figure out this next bout of weather turmoil.

    The set-up

    Polar air crashing through tonight will send temperatures down into the single digits by early Friday morning, with readings dropping below zero north and west of town.

    On Friday, temperatures will struggle into the mid-20s.

    Arctic air will moderate on Saturday as we catch a nice break; temperatures will rise above 40 degrees!

    On Sunday, moisture starts to stream northeastward as a series of storms begin to form along the southern branch of the next arctic front creeping down from northcentral Pennsylvania.

    We are looking at a mix of snow and sleet to arrive late Sunday, with readings above freezing so little chance of any accumulations in city and across Southern New Jersey and Delaware.

    Monday madness: Snow, sleet

    The combination of falling temperatures and Gulf of Mexico moisture riding up the coast will lead to the potential of heavy snow and sleet.

    Most computer models currently have Philadelphia in the 6-inches-plus zone.

    Northwest suburbs: 10-inches-plus.

    Interior southern New Jersey, away from the shore: 6 inches-plus.

    Northern Delaware: 6-inches-plus.

    This would be by 7 p.m. Monday evening, with some places picking up heavy sleet.

    It's still early yet for high confidence and we still have about 48 hours left to refine the forecast.

    Adjustments will be made higher or lower as additional data comes in.

    Quite a few weather scenarios in play, and will keep you posted.

    Winter fact

    If we receive 6.1 inches of snow, it will be the second snowiest winter of all-time, beating out the winter of 1996 and its 65.5 inches of snow.

    John Bolaris

    John Bolaris For Philly.com
    Also on Philly.com
    Stay Connected