Storm drops less than anticipated

Despite the dire warnings from the National Weather Service Thursday, the amount and duration of snow forecast for our region did not pan out, and instead of up to 8 inches, the most snow to fall was 5 to 6 inches in the higher elevations, and 2 inches or less in and around the city.

According to meteorologist Kevin Fitzgerald, the city had only received an inch of snowfall by last night and was expected to get about another half-inch or so by the time the storm ended early today.

“It looks like a little less than we thought. We thought it would be a bit closer but the coastal storm took over and produced the heaviest weather east of us,” he said.

White stuff didn’t really change the driving conditions, and the timing of the storm was significant, with snow falling in earnest across the region by 3 p.m. and picking up in intensity through the evening rush hour, prompting some schools to close early.

In the Northern Tier all schools closed were closed by 1 p.m.

Mansfield University canceled its February “Visit Day” and rescheduled it for March 8.

Towanda’s Keystone College canceled its classes and various other schools in the eastern part of the region closed early or canceled evening activities.

In the Northern Tier mountains, storm totals ranged from 4 to 5 inches, with more in Sullivan County north and east of the city.

For today, he said, the sun will return but it will be windy, with highs in the low 30s for the city.

Sunday will be a bit milder after a cold night with temperatures dropping to around 10 degrees above zero, or single digits north, and less wind.

Another system will approach the area Sunday night and early Monday with a chance for freezing rain in the morning, turning to rain showers by afternoon and temperatures rising to the low 40s, he said.

Fitzgerald said the region may not be out of the woods as some indications in the long range forecast show the possibility of another east coast storm by next weekend.

“But that is really uncertain at this point,” he said.

Fitzgerald noted that even though this storm was “a big system, there wasn’t a lot of cold air with it.”

For the winter so far, temperatures have been running about 2-3 degrees above normal but snowfall has been “pretty close to normal.”

Williamsport has seen around 24 and a half inches so far, and normal snowfall is around 35 inches or so.

“And we still have most of February and March to go,” he said.

Still residents weren’t taking any chances, and business was brisk at local stores.

Mansfield Lowe’s store manager Joe Dively said yesterday there were some generator sales but no more than during any other snowstorm.

“People are definitely buying snow shovels and rock salt,” he said.

For the most part, customers seemed to be taking the storm in stride.

“We’re on top of a mountain, if it’s not snowing, there’s a problem,” he said.