Winter Storm Stella swept through Centre County from Monday night through Tuesday, leaving a lot of white in her wake.
Predictions were calling for as much as 10 to 15 inches over a 24-hour period. Halfway through, the Centre Region was exactly midway there with 6 to 9 inches. On the western edge of the county, snow continued to fall around 5 p.m. with escalating winds. Three to 5 more inches were expected by the end of that daylong timeframe.
“It was definitely pretty close,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist John Feerick, who said snow was still expected.
If the numbers were a touch behind predictions for Centre County, other portions of Pennsylvania got hit harder.
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“The storm got its act together a little farther east,” said Feerick. “Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Catskills got hammered.”
Blizzard warnings were issued for parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, according to The Associated Press, which also reported that Gov. Tom Wolf deployed 700 National Guard members in response to the snowstorm.
While the heaviest snows are expected east of the area, the rejuvenated winter weather is not over, experts said. The National Weather Service put estimates for accumulated snow overnight and through Wednesday at up to another inch and a half.
And that’s not all. March may have come in like a lamb, and there’s still time for it to leave that way, but the next few days will be decidedly unspringlike.
“It’s definitely going to feel more like January than March,” Feerick said.
While the nor’easter will be done dumping snow on the area, for the next eight days or so, temperatures will drop quite a bit, spending more time closer to the 20s, about 20 degrees below normal.
“It does look like at least through the middle part of next week, temperatures will be below average,” Feerick said. “Wednesday will be the coldest. Saturday will be the warmest day of next week and that’s only 40.”
Local schools, as well as many businesses (yes, including the Centre Daily Times office) and services around the county, closed their doors against the predicted snow. The Centre Area Transportation Authority ran its buses but some routes were delayed. All flights in and out of University Park Airport were canceled, just like thousands of flights on the East Coast. Several municipalities declared snow emergencies.
The state Department of Transportation lifted travel and speed restrictions on interstates by Tuesday afternoon, but it followed that up with a reminder that the storm isn’t quite over yet, with snow squalls possible along Interstates 80 and 99 through Wednesday morning.
“Motorists need to be alert for sudden squalls that can quickly cause roads to become snow covered,” PennDOT said. “Heavy squalls can also cause whiteout conditions that can greatly restrict or virtually eliminate a driver’s visibility.”
Snow squalls are not to be dismissed lightly. Three separate massive pileups on March 3 – two on Interstate 80 in Clearfield and Clinton counties and one in Centre County on Interstate 99 – involved more than 100 crashed vehicles, grinding traffic to a halt for hours.
Shawn Annarelli contributed to this report.