Winter storm in forecast; up to a foot of snow possible in some places

cpassante@centredaily.comFebruary 28, 2014 

Up to a foot of snow and more frigid — nearly record-breaking — temperatures are heading toward central Pennsylvania.

A major winter storm is expected to dump piles of snow this weekend from the Rockies to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, according to the National Weather Service.

The snow will reach central Pennsylvania on Sunday, forecasters said.

“Right now, we have the potential for 6 or more inches of snow,” said Craig Evanego, an NWS meteorologist in State College. “It looks like the steadiest or heaviest snow will fall late Sunday through Monday.”

Flurries are expected to begin Saturday night, accumulating a bit more than a half an inch, according to AccuWeather.com forecasts. On Sunday, the snow will pick up, dropping about 2 inches, with another 4 to 8 inches expected Sunday night in Monday.

“There’s enough moisture with this system that some places across the state could get a foot of snow,” Evanego said. “It’s going to be a fairly long-duration event.”

The snow is expected to wind down Monday afternoon, he said, but not before adding to the far-above snow average this year.

The average snowfall in State College is 46 inches, Evanego said. As of Friday, the borough stood at 51.8 inches in 2013-14.

But NWS historical data show that we’re not quite halfway to the record. In the winter of 1993-94, 109.3 inches of snow fell. And in 1995-96, it was 99 inches.

So, when will it all end?

“Long range, it’s too early to tell,” Evanego said. “We can get snow here well into April. But we should be turning a corner sometime soon.”

That statement might move the needle on many people’s winter misery index, but not everyone’s.

“Spring and summer will be here soon — we all know it,” said Aaron Weyman, marketing director at Tussey Mountain Ski Area. “We’ve got all this snow, why not use it?”

Weyman called this winter’s ski season “a banner year.”

“We were open Thanksgiving weekend and through the holidays, and we plan on staying open to April,” he said.

Last year, Tussey closed March 31.

“We had more snow out here than we’ve ever had, with our snow-making and natural snow,” Weyman said. “We have natural snowfall-only trails that are in great shape. We’re excited.”

Weyman said the base of snow is about 20 to 40 inches.

A lot of that snow should stay on the ground, what with temperatures approaching near-record lows next week.

“We had another piece of Arctic air coming down (Thursday) and (Friday),” Evanego said. “Most places got below zero.”

Penn State registered minus 1, but it was 12-below near Clarence in northern Centre County on Friday morning.

“Sunday, we’ll be back around the freezing mark, but Monday and Tuesday, highs will only be into the low 20s, and lows in the single digits,” Evanego said.

The average high temperature for State College this time of year is 40 degrees; however, the record low for Feb. 28 occurred in 1934, when the mercury struggled to reach 13 below zero, Evanego said.

“Into early March, we’ll be within a few degrees either side of zero,” he said. “We could approach record lows early next week.”

Weyman, however, is taking the glass-half-full approach.

“We’re close by, conditions are good. Use the snow,” he said.

“Before you know it, it will be spring, and you’ll be able to bust out the golf clubs and the bikes.”

Contact Christopher Passante at 231-4638 or follow him on Twitter @ChrisPas santeCDT.

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