3 to 8 inches in parts of region
Residents likely will wake up to a “mostly all snow” event this morning as a powerful winter Nor’easter, dubbed “Nemo” by The Weather Channel, moves northeast along the coast.
According to the National Weather Service in State College, a fast moving “clipper” system arriving from the east will combine with the bigger storm moving up from the south to bring as much as 8 inches of snow to the region, especially in the northern mountains and areas east of the city.
The entire region is under a winter storm warning, having changed from a winter storm watch Thursday afternoon.
“This looks like mainly snow, with anywhere from 3-8 inches in some places, ” National Weather Service meteorologist John LaCorte said.
“Especially as you move north and east, those higher elevations north and east should see 6 inches or more of snow,” he said.
The storm, which the weather service has been watching for a couple days, is on track to impact New England the hardest, where snow will be measured in feet, not inches. High winds are expected.
Though LaCorte said the weather service updates its weather bulletins every three hours, nothing has changed as far as snow totals and arrival time for the storm, and he didn’t expect them to.
“The storm is on track, but the devil is always in the details,” he said.
Being under a winter storm warning is different than being under a watch, LaCorte said, in that a watch “can be posted a couple days in advance that it could be possible to see heavy snow and once we are more confident of the numbers, we issue the warning within a day or so.”
The storm should wrap up by early morning Saturday making for a mostly dry weekend, but another frontal system will make things a little messy on Monday, LaCorte said.
“That one will start out as a mix, going to all rain with temperatures topping out in the 40s,” he said.
The state Department of Transportation encourages motorists who must be on the roads to slow down and be patient during the worst part of the storm.
Ken Pochatko, a maintenance manager in Montoursville, said he has been watching to see when the storm is supposed to move in, and has his 40 plow trucks ready to go.
“All our trucks are in good shape. Our material is on hand and stockpiled,” he said.
Pochatko said this winter there only have been three significant storms where the snow was “plowable.”
“There’s been a lot more smaller storms of under an inch and we tend to use a little more material for those because there’s not enough snow to plow,” he said.
Though PennDOT crews are out more during a storm, they also does some anti-icing with salt brine prior to a storm, he said.
“If we know it is coming, we try to get our people out there in position and ready to go,” he said.
Pochatko said drivers should use caution and drive more slowly on treated and untreated roads.
“Just be patient with us because we will have all our trucks out on the 750 miles of roads and sometimes it takes our drivers a little time to cycle through their areas,” he added.
Mark Foust, maintenance manager for Tioga County, said his people were out getting ready for the storm, making sure equipment is ready and “anti-icing Route 15.”
“We have a special truck that sprays liquid salt onto the roads while they are dry and clear so it will dry,” Foust said.
The truck puts a layer of salt onto the road prior to the storm so if it creates ice, it does not allow the ice to bond to the road.
Then, once the storm passes and the sun comes out, the ice has “material on both sides melting it so it can be pushed off.”
Though Foust said the safest place to be in any winter storm is “at home and off the road,” if drivers must be out in it, his best advice is to “slow down and take your time.”
“Be aware of our trucks out there. Do not pass on the right, as some trucks have what is called a ‘wing plow’ hangs out about 11 feet when they are plowing the shoulder off at the same time,” he said.
Some plow trucks have wings on the left and right and do both the shoulder and passing lane, a span of about 22 feet.
“The safest place to be in a storm is at home in your pajamas watching TV, but if you have to be out, slow down and be cautious around our people and trucks doing what they have to do. Our guys have a lot to concentrate on,” he added.