The mild winter central Pennsylvania has been having so far is about to change. Centre County is about to get a double blast of winter weather — starting Thursday evening.
About 1-2 inches of snow is expected to accumulate overnight, starting around 5-6 p.m. Thursday, through Friday morning, AccuWeather senior meteorologist Paul Walker said.
That snow will be enough to make the roads slick, but will be nothing compared to what the region will face over the weekend.
Although projected accumulation totals vary based upon how much of that snow is expected to be sleet or freezing rain, Walker said that the State College area can look to have anywhere from 6-10 inches of accumulation by Sunday.
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The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch Thursday afternoon for parts of central Pennsylvania, including Centre County, from Saturday through Sunday afternoon. NWS is calling for accumulations of 9 to 13 inches, with localized amounts of up to 17 inches, and possible ice accumulations of up to one-tenth of an inch.
“It’s a tricky storm because it’s going to mix with some sleet at times, especially Saturday night, and that could hold down accumulations,” Walker said. “But if it’s all snow, then maybe we get more than than the 6-10 that we’re talking about. It all depends on how much sleet and how much snow from this storm.”
Walker said the snow should start falling around noon Saturday, then continuing into the evening, when it could change to sleet and freezing rain, and tapering off into flurries by Sunday afternoon.
“It’s going to come in pretty hard whenever it comes in Saturday afternoon, so the roads could get pretty slippery pretty quick Saturday afternoon,” Walker said. “And then Saturday night into Sunday, travel’s going to be difficult, so if you can avoid traveling during that time period, it’d be great.”
Strong winds gusts are also projected to be a part of this storm, but how much the gusts affect travel, Walker said, again depends on how much now there is to blow, compared with sleet and ice.
Saturday’s storm system began on the Pacific West Coast, Walker said, bringing heavy snow to the Cascade mountains and flooding and mudslides to California on Thursday.
Walker said the system will move across the Rocky Mountains on Friday morning, then onto the southern Plains. The storm will develop over the Oklahoma area and move into the Ohio Valley and the East Coast on Saturday.
Once the storm leaves, it’ll be followed by high pressure coming down from Canada that will bring below-freezing temperatures.
“We’re looking at a high of 27 degrees on Sunday but a low of one below zero Sunday night,” Walker said, “with temperatures only recovering to 11 for a high on Monday.”
People are encouraged to limit time outdoors, dress in several layers of clothing and wear gloves to prevent frostbite.