A nor'easter is in the forecast, but predicting its impact on central Pa. is a nightmare

·3 min read

Meteorologists predict an impending nor'easter will become one for the history books for New England this weekend with a foot or more of snow and blizzard conditions in the forecast.

Most residents in south central Pennsylvania, though, will likely see up to a few inches of snow Friday into Saturday, meteorologists say. It all depends on the track of the storm.

The National Weather Service predicts the heaviest snow will fall east of the Interstate 95 corridor and into the Northeast, meteorologist Aaron Tyburski said.

Residents in Lancaster and York counties could see one to three inches, but farther west in Franklin County, it could just be a coating, meteorologist Matt Steinbugl said Thursday. But about 100 miles away, Philadelphia is in a winter storm watch as it could receive four to six inches.

South central Pennsylvania could see up to three inches of snow this weekend. Philadelphia, however, could see up to half a foot.
South central Pennsylvania could see up to three inches of snow this weekend. Philadelphia, however, could see up to half a foot.

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Central Pa. is on the edge of the storm

The difficulty with the storm — which could result in nothing to half a foot or more of snow — depends on the track, Millersville University meteorologist Kyle Elliott said.

The nor'easter is expected to remain offshore and south central Pennsylvania will be on the western fringe. If the storm shifts 50 miles to the west, the area would receive a significant snow of 6 inches or more, he said. If it tracks farther to the east, it would mean little or nothing at all.

"These storms are nightmares for forecasters, because the western gradient and snowfall totals is so remarkable and it's so extreme," Elliott said.

He is predicting a coating to two inches for south central Pennsylvania.

Areas in southeastern York and Lebanon counties have a better chance of receiving the higher amounts, Elliott said.

Meteorologists said on Thursday that it's unlikely that the storm will shift to the west to deliver more snow to south central Pennsylvania. However, residents should keep an eye on the forecast if they have plans for the weekend, Steinbugl said.

Weather from the past can give clues into the future, Elliott said.

This system is reminiscent of ones from Dec. 26, 2010 and late January 2015, he said. Both shifted farther east about 50 miles at the last minute and produced less than 4 inches of snow across south central Pennsylvania.

AccuWeather.com also is predicting one to three inches for the area, senior meteorologist Paul Walker said.

Timing of the snowfall

Snow is expected to start falling in mid- to late morning on Friday, Elliott said. It will be from a cold front pushing into the lower Susquehanna Valley.

The energy associated with the cold front is expected to merge with the coastal storm, which will cause it to strengthen and intensify, he said.

The steadiest of the light snow is expected to fall on Friday afternoon and evening. It could wrap up by midnight, Elliott said.

Temperatures on Friday are expected to be at or above freezing, Elliott said.

The main impact will be the evening commute, he said. Most main routes that have been treated will be wet.

Any secondary roads that are untreated could be slushy and slick in the evening, Elliott said.

This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: Nor'easter to deliver historic storm for Northeast, but in central Pennsylvania, it's all in the track on how much snow will fall

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