Love snow? Root for the colder model solutions on Saturday

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The Lehigh Valley and most of the Mid-Atlantic region could be in store for measurable snow this weekend.

The key word being could.

For forecasters at the National Weather Service — and for just about every other meteorologist — the coming system is actually looking as close to a nightmare scenario as can be imagined. The models are cold. The models are warm. The models are slow. The models are progressive. And they’re seemingly flip flopping every few hours.

“A quick moving storm system late Saturday afternoon into very early Sunday is expected to produce wintry precipitation, with the bulk of the precipitation occurring Saturday night,” the weather service warns. “While accumulating snow is expected, the amounts and impacts are less certain at this time.”

The tricky forecast hinges on air temperature, precipitation intensity, and ground temperatures. The weather service says there should be an area with mixed precipitation and rain, which would cut down on expected snow amounts currently sitting right around two or three inches for the Lehigh Valley.

The ‘worst case scenario’ (or high end snow amount) for our area is five inches, with Mount Pocono seeing at least seven inches. This could occur with the snow falling at night, which will help cool the ground, and if the intensity of the precipitation is heavier this will also improve the accumulation efficiency.

Overall, the weather service says temperatures look to be close to freezing where snow occurs, and the snow to liquid ratios will be low allowing the snow to be wetter.

Before this weekend system arrives, meteorologists say it will be rather mild and wet today and tomorrow. We can expect a slight chance of showers this afternoon with highs in the lower 60s. Friday morning should bring some rain before we dry out Friday afternoon. It’s expected to turn much colder Friday evening, with temperatures falling into the 20s.

Seasonal Snowfall A Departure From ‘Normal’

If you feel like it’s been a largely snowless winter season, you’re not alone.

The Lehigh Valley has only picked up 18.8 inches of snow since Dec. 1, and is now below average in its season snowfall-to-date. That’s according to measurements at Lehigh Valley International Airport, where the normal value for mid-February is around 21 inches.

Our month-to-date snowfall total is at 2.9 inches, nearly three inches below normal.

Similarly, Philadelphia has only managed 0.2 inches of snow this month, and only 0.7 inches since Jan. 4 (and that was spread among three separate days).

Here is the extended Lehigh Valley forecast from the National Weather Service:

Today

Cloudy. Patchy fog early this morning. A chance of rain early. A slight chance of showers this afternoon. Not as cool with highs in the lower 60s. Southwest winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50 percent.

Tonight

Rain. Not as cool with lows around 50. Southwest winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain near 100 percent.

Friday

Mostly cloudy. Rain likely in the morning. Highs in the lower 50s. Temperature falling into the lower 40s in the afternoon. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 70 percent.

Friday Night

Partly cloudy in the evening, then becoming mostly clear. Much colder with lows around 20. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph.

Saturday

Sunny in the morning, then partly sunny with a chance of snow in the afternoon. Little or no snow accumulation. Much cooler with highs in the mid 30s. Northeast winds around 5 mph, becoming southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon. Chance of snow 30 percent.

Saturday Night

Snow, mainly in the evening. Light snow accumulation. Cold with lows in the mid 20s. Chance of snow 90 percent.

Sunday

Partly sunny in the morning, then clearing. Highs in the mid 40s.

Sunday Night

Mostly clear in the evening, then becoming partly cloudy. Cold with lows in the upper 20s.

Washingtons Birthday

Partly sunny with a chance of rain and snow in the morning, then mostly cloudy with a chance of rain in the afternoon. Highs in the upper 40s. Chance of precipitation 50 percent.

Monday Night

Cloudy with a 50 percent chance of showers. Not as cool. Near steady temperature in the mid 40s.

Tuesday

Mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of showers. Not as cool with highs in the upper 50s.

Tuesday Night

Mostly cloudy. Lows in the upper 40s.

Wednesday

Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers. Highs in the upper 50s.

ssigafoos@mcall.com

Twitter @ssigafoos

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