Path will determine snowfalls; models say foot-plus of snow likely
Update 4 p.m.: Adds NWS Blizzard Warning.
Updated: 2:30 p.m. With additional information, updated forecast.
Okay, let’s get this out of the way: it’s going to snow Tuesday. Probably a lot. Possibly as much as two feet in some places, if the storm path is right — and later forecast models suggest a dead aim for the county.
As a Nor’Easter bears down on Chester County, likely to hit late Monday, the big question is how much snow and how crippling will the storm be?
And that remains a bit of a guessing game, depending on the ultimate path of the low.
In the last 24 hours, computer models have ranged between 2 and 24 inches of snow for much of Chester County. By Monday afternoon, the models were showing a fairly high confidence in a “major snow event” for the Chester County area with numerous forecasts in the 18 to 24 inch range, with the highest snowfall likely to be to the north and west in the county. Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a Blizzard Warning, starting at 8 p.m. through Tuesday at 6 p.m. The NWS warns that wideout conditions are possible.
There are also likely to be high winds — again, the path of the storm will determine their severity. Some forecasts suggest that as much as four inches of snow per hour may fall during the peak of the storm, making local roads impassible.
State and local governments moved Monday to declare various emergency statuses, which do anything from mobilizing resources to banning parking on local streets in anticipation of the storm.
Gov. Tom Wolf Monday signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency in anticipation of a significant winter snowstorm that will impact the state starting Monday evening through late Tuesday, and announced PennDOT and the Turnpike will restrict speeds on interstates and some large commercial vehicular travel. Governor Wolf also announced that PennDOT will strategically deploy additional assets to areas expected to be hardest hit by the storm, including the Northeast, Poconos and Lehigh Valley.
“State agencies continue to take proactive steps to ensure Pennsylvania is ready for the incoming winter weather and Pennsylvanians should take their own precautions and prepare for adverse conditions, especially for travel,” Governor Wolf said. “We are preparing for the most significant part of the storm to hit the Eastern half of the state from Monday night through Tuesday’s commute with significant winds to follow and cause additional concerns. I ask residents and commercial drivers across the commonwealth to prepare to avoid unnecessary travel on roadways during this time – as to let road crews and emergency responders do their jobs and minimize dangerous travel.”
This proclamation is not a ‘state of emergency,’ as it does not prohibit vehicular travel on commonwealth roads, but motorists are strongly encouraged to delay all unnecessary travel and heed local road closures that may be in place. A proclamation ensures emergency resources can be procured as needed and increases protections for consumers from price-gouging.
The City of Coatesville declared a Snow Emergency, effective at 8 p.m. Monday through 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
Parking is prohibited on the following roadways during the emergency:
1. Lincoln Highway, from bridge to bridge (both north and south sides).
2. Strode Avenue, from Lincoln Highway to southern City Line (both east and west sides).
3. Pennsylvania Avenue (west side only).
4. Chestnut Street (south side only).
5. Oak Street, from First Avenue to Eighth Avenue (south side only).
6. Charles Street, from Church Street to western City Line (south side only).
7. Third Avenue, from Oak Street to Coates Street (West Side Only)
The chance for power outages is real with northeast winds predicted of 15-20 miles and gusts up to 35MPH, so people should get prepared to potentially be without power and heat — the latter crucial as temperatures will be well below normal for the mid-March period.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning, effective at 8 p.m. Monday night.
PennDOT is already prepositioning staff and equipment and will be pretreating roadways, but it is likely that many, if not all, county roadways will be largely impassible Tuesday morning — again, though, if the storm path shifts west, the snowfall could be dramatically reduced.
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Stay warm, stay dry and remember: Spring is right around the corner!