Weekend snowstorm headed for Centre County

cpassant@centredaily.comDecember 12, 2013 

Shovel1

Mark Bergstrom shovels snow in front of his home along East Foster, in State College, Pa., Monday December 9, 2013.

NABIL K. MARK — CDT photo Buy Photo

So much for advance December forecasts that predicted it would be light on snow.

Weather forecasters originally predicted the winter to start off with less snow and slightly warmer temperatures than we’ve seen in Centre County. But with overnight lows Thursday in single digits, December temperatures below average, and snowfall at or above average, those predictions have been blown out of the water.

“We were confident December was going to get off to a slow start, but it also looked like the weather wanted to try to change,” said Mark Parquette, an AccuWeather meteorologist and member of group’s long-range team.

Change it did — and will continue to do so.

On Saturday, as much as a half-foot of snow is expected to fall on Centre County, Parquette said.

“It looks like the snow should begin around dawn on Saturday,” he said. “Ninety percent of it is a true snow event — not a wintry mix. We maybe will see a mix at the tail end Saturday night, but we’re looking at a light to moderate snowfall with temperatures in the 20s, which means plenty of slippery roads.”

Slippery not just in Centre County, but through most of the state. The snow is expected to blanket practically all of the commonwealth, Parquette said.

“We’re in the 3- to 6-inch range,” he said. “Looks like it will be our biggest snowfall of the year so far.”

The storm comes from a low-pressure system heading from the Deep South, bringing with it wet air. Combined with a surge of Arctic air from Canada, a fair amount of snow will result, according to AccuWeather.com.

East of the Mississippi in a direct line to Boston will see snow, according to AccuWeather models.

“It seemed like the dominant air wanted to be westward, not northward, meaning it would warm up from time to time,” Parquette said. “But we’ve just seen a flow that has been north, northeastward with cold air from central Canada.

That cold Canadian air was supposed to force the mercury far down as low as 6 degrees overnight Thursday, but slightly warmer temps — still below freezing — will remain through the weekend. The average low for mid-December is 26, Parquette said.

But perhaps the million dollar-question as the holidays approach is: Will there be a white Christmas?

“That’s a good question,” Parquette said. “The chances for a white Christmas are higher than normal, but we still have a long way to go.”

Beyond that, AccuWeather is still predicting a snowier second half of winter. So, is it safe to buy those new skis or sleds?

“Definitely,” Parquette said. “We’ll have more snow.”

Follow Christopher Passante on Twitter @CPassanteCDT.

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