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Bolaris: Sou'easter will soak, and maybe bring a bit of snow, too

The meteorologist says the huge storm is spawning tornadoes in Florida.

Travelers wait for a flight at a terminal gate at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Tuesday morning, Nov. 26, 2013. As a winter storm moved toward the East Coast, forecasters warned it would almost certainly upset holiday travel plans for those hoping to visit loved ones in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. (AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas)
Travelers wait for a flight at a terminal gate at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Tuesday morning, Nov. 26, 2013. As a winter storm moved toward the East Coast, forecasters warned it would almost certainly upset holiday travel plans for those hoping to visit loved ones in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. (AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas)
Travelers wait for a flight at a terminal gate at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Tuesday morning, Nov. 26, 2013. As a winter storm moved toward the East Coast, forecasters warned it would almost certainly upset holiday travel plans for those hoping to visit loved ones in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. (AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas) Gallery: Bolaris: Sou'easter will soak, and maybe bring a bit of snow, too

Updated forecast, 12:30 p.m. Tuesday

A deadly storm responsible for 13 fatalities across the nation is getting ready to disrupt millions in a strike the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. At midday Tuesday it was producing tornadoes across the Florida Panhandle

The storm will leave a swath of snow and ice from Kentucky through Central and Western Pennsylvania. On the storm's eastern side, soaking rains and flooding will be the culprit. From 2-4 inches of rain will swamp the I-95 corridor, including Washington, D.C., Philly, New York City, and up to Maine.

On the western flank, heavy wind-driven snow will pile up from Cleveland, across all of western New York State, and eventually the interior of New England. The heaviest snow will fall in a broad band from Cleveland through Buffalo. Snow amounts by Thanksgiving afternoon could reach up to 20 inches as the lake effect snows pile on.

On Wednesday, flooding rains, heavy snow and ice will massively disrupt Thanksgiving travel on land and air.

The brunt of the storm from Washington to New York City will be late tonight through Wednesday morning with flooding rains.

However, the backlash of the storm will take place later Wednesday afternoon as nose-diving temperatures and winds gusting over 40 mph could lead to black ice. You can't always see it but a thin layer of ice could form across some roadways. If snow showers develop, be even more prepared for icing on the roadways.

Thanksgiving Day parades both in Philly and New York City will be impacted, and there there is a chance that the Macy's Day Parade in New York may have to ground its signature balloons due to sustained winds of 23 mph.

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Earlier forecast

With a soaking huge-scale Sou'easter hours away, you might be asking, do you mean Nor'easter? Nope, it's a Sou'easter.

A Nor'easter blows from the colder Northeasterly direction as the storm tracks just off the East Coast, meaning much more snow and ice. The Sou'easter is a huge storm that tracks more inland as it moves up the Eastern flank of the Appalachians, which always means more rain than snow.

That is the good news. But there's bad news, too: This storm is loading up on fuel in the Gulf of Mexico in the form of some very heavy rain that will lead to widespread street and highway flooding right up I-95 from Florida to Portland, Maine.

Here in Philadelphia the heaviest of the rain will take place in a 12-hour period from about 9 tonight until 9 Wednesday morning. Future radar estimates put the bullseye of rain across Washington, D.C., Philly, and New York City with 2-4 inches possible. (If that were snow, we would be talking about 20-40 inches.) But it's not, so we are looking at flooding on the streets and highways and possible flash flooding of streams and creeks. A tidal surge of 3 feet is anticipated for portions of the Delaware Bay and River leading to minor flooding Wednesday morning.

Strong Southeast winds along the Jersey Shore will lead to minor tidal flooding on Wednesday; it should not reach moderate levels due to the quick-moving nature of the storm.

At the very start of the storm, sometime by mid- and or late-afternoon, it might be cold enough to start as a mix of snow and sleet north and west of the Blue Route, but that will be short-lived as strong milder southeast winds come surging in. The mix might last longer in northern sections of the Lehigh Valley and Poconos resulting in some early slick roadways.

Winds will increase dramatically and shift to the very cold northwesterly direction leading to falling afternoon and evening temperatures and maybe even some changeover to snow showers by evening, especially across northern Bucks, Montgomery and Chester counties. Temperatures during the day today will rise into the 50s before falling sharply by late afternoon, with wind chill levels dipping back down into the teens by late Wednesday night.

The annual Thanksgiving Day parade will be buffered by cold gusty winds, with temperatures starting out in the 20s, a wind chill in the teens, but dry. (I'm sure the hosts of the parade will be thrilled there won't be any sleeveless weather folks. Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

On Friday and Saturday, skies will remain dry but chilly with temperatures rising into the 40s by Saturday.

The next storm threat to watch is around Dec. 3rd, and as of now leaning wet.

Please be safe and try to keep traveling down to a minimal Tuesday night through Wednesday morning, and keep in mind that airport delays will be numerous throughout the eastern half of the country from late Tuesday through Wednesday.

John Bolaris For Philly.com
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