STATE COLLEGE — A weather battle zone will continue to take place as winter fights back in the northeastern United States with areas of flooding rain, dangerous ice and a blanket of heavy snow through Friday.
Multiple storms bringing anything from rain to a wintry mix and snow, will sweep into the Northeast through late week.
A winter weather advisory issued Thursday afternoon for the tri-county area for the period from 5 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday predicts mixed precipitation changing to heavy snow with total snow accumulation of 2-4 inches.
Slippery road conditions are predicted.
According to the warning, rain will change to freezing rain and sleet overnight, followed by heavy snow in the pre-dawn hours, continuing throughout the day.
The multifaceted and two-part storm will continue to affect the region just days after springlike warmth surged in. It is the same storm system responsible for heavy snow over the southern Plains on Wednesday and ongoing heavy rain and severe weather in the South during Thursday.
Mild conditions will hold along the mid-Atlantic coast and in southeastern New England, but cold air that recently returned to the interior Northeast and will have consequences in terms of wintry precipitation across parts of the central Appalachians and the northern tier.
Copious amounts of moisture will be available to a strengthening and slow-moving storm system that moves up from the Southern states. The storm is coming in two parts with a several-hour pause in between both portions. Regardless, the complex system is expected to produce enough precipitation either in the form of rain, ice or snow to cause travel disruptions over a broad area.
This infrared satellite image, captured during Thursday afternoon, Feb. 6, shows a large shield of clouds extending from the Gulf of Mexico to Atlantic Canada and indicative of a major storm in the eastern United States.
“A swath of 3-4 inches of rain with an AccuWeather Local StormMax of 5 inches is anticipated from central and southern Virginia to the Delmarva Peninsula, southern New Jersey, southeastern New York state and southeastern New England,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.
“Since much of this rain is likely to occur in a 24-hour period, urban flooding is likely and some small streams may spill out of their banks,” Anderson said.
The rain will come in multiple rounds but the most intense and problematic rainfall is likely to occur from Thursday afternoon through Thursday night in Roanoke and Richmond, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Philadelphia and New York City. Poor visibility combined with water collecting on the roads and runways can substantially slow ground travel and result in airline delays.
As winds pick up after the rain end and the storm lifts to the north, the saturated state of the ground can cause an unusually high number of trees to topple in the mid-Atlantic and southern New England regions on Friday. Sporadic power outages and property damage can occur. People should avoid standing under or parking under trees in this situation.
“For the northern tier of the Northeast, the second part of the storm from Friday to Friday night will be the real deal with an all-out snowstorm,” added Chief On-Air AccuWeather Meteorologist Bernie Rayno.
“A general 6-12 inches of snow will fall in the swath from parts of northwestern and north-central Pennsylvania to central and northern Maine but a 12- to 18- inch band is in store farther over the northern tier of the Northeast where an AccuWeather Local StormMax of 24 inches is likely,” Rayno said.
A large backwash of moisture is expected with the storm as colder air returns later Thursday night to Friday night.
As the big snowstorm ramps up over the northern tier of the Northeast, people who live in or travel through Ohio to northern Massachusetts should not write off the storm’s snowfall. Enough snow to blanket roads and shovel and plow is likely over the central Appalachians.
“Even in part of this area, it may snow hard, at the rate of 1-2 inches per hour for a time during Friday morning and midday,” Rayno said. “Roads could go from wet to slushy to snowcovered in minutes as the storm picks up.”
These rapidly changing conditions will be a concern for motorists along portions of I-68, I-70, I-76, I-77, I-79, I-80, I-81, I-86, I-90 and I-99. Cities that could be hit hard and fast by snow on Friday include Pittsburgh, Dubois and State College, Pennsylvania; Morgantown, West Virginia; and Youngstown, Ohio.
As temperatures surge to record high levels in the 50s F along the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts for a time on Friday, snow showers may be frequent enough to cover the ground in portions of southern Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and western Maryland before the week concludes. Roads could become slippery as a temperature drop into the 20s can lead to a quick freeze in some locations.
A few inches of snow can pile up in the mountains as far south as those bordering West Virginia and Virginia.
In the wake of the storm, colder air will spill into parts of the interior South and along coastal areas of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England.
This may be an important factor, depending on the strength of a small storm that will race eastward from the Central states this weekend.
If that storm remains weak and moisture-starved, only spotty flurries will streak out from parts of the Ohio Valley Saturday to the central Appalachians, mid-Atlantic coast Saturday night and southern New England early Sunday.
On the other hand, if that storm ends up being a tad slower and stronger, it could put down a swath of light to moderate snowfall in the same zone.