Expect a foot of snow, or more
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS It's winter fun in Lehighton. Riding in tandem down a hill at Baer Memorial Park in Lehighton are, from left, Anthony Tavella, 9; Dane Frantz, 10, and Devin Frantz, 13. A lot more of the frozen precipitation is expected over the next 24 hours, meaning schools likely will be canceled and there will be more opportunity for such outdoor fun.
Here's some good news for the folks who have snowblowers and were worried they wouldn't be able to use them this year.
By tomorrow this time, you will be needing them for the second time within a week.
Forecasters are predicting that well over twice as much snow will fall - starting tonight and continuing into tomorrow afternoon - than what fell last weekend in our area.
Last Friday night into Saturday, most areas in our coverage area got five or six inches.
The forecast for tonight and tomorrow is the wide span of 6 to 18 inches.
Forecasters don't agree regarding when the snow will start falling, with the National Weather Service saying it could begin by 4 p.m., while some TV meteorologists feel it won't arrive until about 9 p.m.
Tom Kines, meteorologist with Accuweather at State College, said he expects the first signs of the storm to reach the ground between 6 and 9 p.m. with total accumulation in the 6- to 12-inch range.
"It will snow all night, throughout the day tomorrow, and taper off tomorrow evening," he said.
Tonight's snow will be mostly a nuisance, according to forecasters, with the main event occurring tomorrow.
The National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J. says to complicate things, the storm will be accompanied by high wind.
Even after the snow stops, the winds will continue.
Kines agrees, stating, "There will be heavy winds. Probably the winds will pick up during the day tomorrow."
He said at the present time blizzard conditions aren't in the forecast, "but they're not too far away. I wouldn't be shocked if blizzard conditions develop."
The storm is coming from the southwest, the meteorologist said, "and once off the Mid-Atlantic coast, it will intensify very quickly. This will be a nor'easter."
PennDOT's deputy secretary for Highway Administration, Scott Christie, P.E. said last week's storm happened on a weekend and wasn't as disruptive to commuters.
He remarked, "However, this storm will occur during the week when many motorists will have no choice but to travel, so we're asking them to allow extra time to reach their destinations and be sure that their vehicle emergency kits are packed."
High winds are expected to accompany the latest storm, creating the potential for near-zero-visibility and major drifting.
"The reality is that motorists who must travel Tuesday night and during the day on Wednesday will face conditions possibly worse than those seen over the weekend, due to the strong, gusty winds currently forecast," Christie said.
PennDOT advises motorists who do encounter white-out conditions to make every attempt to come to a complete stop, but only after safely getting as far off the road as possible or preferably when there is a safe area to do so.
PennDOT is making repairs to any equipment damaged during this past weekend's storm and will have its entire fleet operational for this new winter event, said Christie.
Minor damages such as broken wipers and burned out lights are common when removing heavy amounts of snow.
According to Christie, interstates and other high-volume expressways are treated first during winter storms. Secondary state routes are a lower priority and during severe winter storms, deeper accumulations will occur on these roadways.
The department's primary goal is to keep roads passable, not completely free of ice and snow.
PennDOT will continue to treat roadways throughout the storm until after precipitation stops and roads are clear.
The department has more than 600,000 tons of salt in stock around the state.
Because weather and road conditions can deteriorate quickly, motorists should always check the weather forecast before traveling. Road conditions for interstates and some limited-access highways are available by visiting www.511pa.com before you leave home, or by calling 511 while stopped in a safe location.
Kines said although we're going to see heavy snow locally, areas that got belted with 18-28 inches of snow last weekend - Baltimore and Philadelphia - will have the most accumulation again from this storm. Also expected to be hit hard is New York City.