Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Snow, rain to fall on county Blizzard possible in New England
BY JON RUTTER, Staff Writer
The star of the big winter drama this week is New England.
Lancaster will almost surely reprise its usual role as a minor character.
Millersville University meteorologist Eric Horst can recite the script by now:
Dash of sleet,
Changeover to rain.
Lightweight white encore (maybe).
Locally, Horst said Thursday, the storm was expected to coalesce late in the day with a wintry mix of snow and freezing drizzle.
"There could be a slushy coating that forms on untreated roads (this morning) but they're not going to be plowing ... . It's not that kind of a storm here."
Temperatures are expected to be around the freezing mark this morning, then rise into the low 40s, according to forecasters.
So while the commute is likely to be messy, the slop won't stick around.
Snow critics will applaud. Winter weather lovers will hiss –– or hurry to Boston before predicted gale-force winds and 2-foot accumulations choke the highways in a possibly historic blizzard.
The mercury is supposed to sag back into the 20s here tonight as the disturbance exits.
"For snow lovers locally," Horst added, "it's on the back side of the storm where there's potential."
But not a lot.
Horst predicted snowfall totals of 1 to 4 inches across the county.
Elyse Colbert, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College, was looking for an inch of snow at most to fall late today and early Saturday.
It will be windy, with gusts near 40 mph, she added.
"You guys are far enough south" to miss the brunt of the wind and the snow, Colbert said. "It's going to be pretty minimal."
That is naturally not bad news for drivers, who have a head start, thanks to a series of Alberta Clippers that messed up the roads in recent weeks.
Said Scott Tanguy, local maintenance manager for PennDOT: "We have quite a bit of salt residue down from previous storms.
"We're doing the preparations [for this one], of course, getting all our equipment ready. We are doing some minimal anti-icing" by spreading liquid salt brine on routes 283, 30 and 222.
All hands and plows, including 52 departmental trucks and 14 rental trucks, are on standby just in case, Tanguy added. "We have the ability to man everything for 24 hours or as long as we need to."
Conditions in Lancaster are likely to be a far cry from those along the New England coast, where temperatures are expected to hover in the low 20s Saturday.
National Weather Service forecasters were calling for wind gusts of up to 65 mph in Boston. Snow was expected to fall at 2 or 3 inches an hour and pile up 18 to 24 inches in parts of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.
"Everything's going to come together this evening," said Horst, who was tracking systems converging from the Midwest and the Florida panhandle.
"It's going to be a pretty sharp gradient across Pennsylvania" with heavy snow likely from the Poconos north.
Lancaster, sitting on the southern edge of a pool of cold Canadian air, faces another small nuisance hit of the type that has frustrated snowflake fans.
"We're very hopeful" for more snow here, said Roly Shover, owner of Outfitters Ski Shop in Roherstown, but "a lot of my customers go to New England or out West."
On Wednesday, Shover added, he rented equipment to a once-a-year skier headed for New England.
"He wasn't a storm chaser," Shover said. "Whenever he made those plans, he hit the lotto."