Wednesday, February 4, 2004


- Arlo Guthrie

That's right friends, the next storm is going to deliver just about anything you want...
- MD school do not want to not close a second time this week, they might get that wish.
- Central PA schools realize they are being dealt a hand they cannot avoid.
- The MD powderhounds want to get fed ANY SNOW anytime just to be satisfied for now.
- The Central PA powderhounds have quite a full tummy with 10 inches from the last storm.
- The parents and teachers don't want ice to deal with on their morning commute.
- And finally, the KIDS want lots of ice AND snow so school will be closed AGAIN.

Please read the "Special Weather Statement" posted on all your NWS sites shown on the left link.

Here's the breakdown for this storm in all areas:

CENTRAL PA: You are under the gun again for a heavy wet snow, followed by sleet, freezing rain, and possibly even rain by Friday late afternoon. Altoona and State College will see some snow, but this is going to be mainly an ice/rain event for you. Areas north and east of 322 going towards Phillipsburg is where the heavy snow will occur. The storm will start as snow Thursday late evening near Altoona...and become quite heavy for a short time. Strange as it may seem, but overnight the snow will mix with sleet and evening change to freezing rain towards morning due to the intrusion of warm air. This may go on for several more hours early Friday morning, creating a potentially significant icing event before the change to rain. The low will cut up through the Ohio Valley, and these "cutter" type storms always end up delivering a snow to rain result. You have the potential for flooding because we are talking about 1 inch or more of rain once it does changeover. You won't lose all your snowpack of course, but the rain is going to cause considerable runoff since it will fall on an ice-covered surface instead of being absorbed totally into the snow.

PHILADELPHIA AREA: Because your area is obviously farther north, and the onset is overnight instead of mid-morning... you have the highest potential for a considerable icing event that will probably close most schools. You see everything start as light snow in the early morning hours, and then turn to sleet and freezing rain mid morning, finally over to rain by noon. Then the rain will become heavy as bands of moisture roll in from the southeast as the Low pulls northeast over Ohio. There may be a considerable runoff problem as the rain will fall on icy surfaces, and have trouble penetrating the ground at first. As colder air filters back in Friday night, you will likely see a little snow as the storm tapers off. Temps will fall below freezing overnight, so Saturday morning a lot of standing water will have frozen over. Sounds like fun!

BALTIMORE AREA: This is going to be one of the closest calls of the year for the school systems. The situation is that the low moving out of the plains will "cut up" through the Ohio Valley west of the Appalachians. This is going to deliver another repeat of the sleet and freezing rain situation that we just saw. Even though the storm system is moving quickly, there are a couple factors to consider in the timing and type of precip.

1. By the end of Thursday, you will have had 2 days of snowmelt. Thus the cooling effect of the snowpack will be negligent. The ground surface will be warmer than it was in the last storm.

2. The high pressure system in the upper Great Lakes will slowly slide eastward, delivering a reinforcing shot of cold, dry air. This will effect precip type in Philly, but the less humidity around overnight, the more difficult time the storm has "saturating the column" of air that's above you in order to bring dew points close enough to the temperature for snow...or rain..or whatever. Though the storm is moving quickly, first the precip has to make it over the mountains, then it will run into this dry slot. So we may have the same setup... where the radar shows that it is snowing or sleeting in the Baltimore metro area, but you seen nothing at the surface.

3. This storm is overall moving at a quicker pace than Tuesday's storm, so the changeover to rain will occur sooner from south to north.

4. Baltimore County and Howard County Schools are out of snow days. So I think the school system will do everything it can to squeeze this day within reasonable safety considerations.

On Friday night into Saturday, the dynamics of this storm may change to create a more traditional "Nor'easter" that could deliver some wrap-around snow as the Low departs towards New England.


Philadelphia: The colder air and earlier onset of the precip than last Tuesday is going to make the morning commute very treacherous. Schools will either start with a 2-hour delay and then close, or close outright if the precip is still frozen by 7 AM.

Central PA: Considerable icing on top of snow is going to make for a real mess Friday morning. Schools will attempt a 2-hour delay and probably end up closing.

Baltimore Metro: BCPS and Howard County will first announce a 2-hour delay. Once officials see the precip is starting to changeover to rain, they will re-evaluate the situation. If conditions are improving south to north by 7:00 AM, I think schools will let the delay stand and decide to stay open.

Western Maryland: Carroll and Frederick Counties are going to see considerable icing, and will likely go over to a Winter Storm Warning by noon Thursday. They will probably close at the very start on Friday morning.

Teachers in the Baltimore area should plan for Friday. Students....donnn't stay up all night waiting for the snow because there will be nothing to see until early in the morning, it won't be much anyway. And if all we get is a two-hour delay, you'll be verrrry tired and sorry you stayed up.

Everybody else... Western Maryland, Philly, Central PA... you'll be getting anything you want on this winter weather menu.

Next post will be a Thursday afternoon pre-storm update.

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