Centre County residents shouldn’t get too used to the mild weather experienced over the past couple weeks, as much colder temperatures and winter weather are on the way.
It started Monday afternoon, when some sleet and freezing rain hit the area, causing slick road conditions and several crashes, which caused traffic to get backed up on parts of Interstate 80 and on Route 322 over the mountain in Potters Mills and in Philipsburg. Centre County 911 dispatch had several reports of tractor-trailers sliding all over the highways.
Although the afternoon precipitation did wreak havoc for those out traveling the roads Monday, the worst is expected Monday evening.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for parts of central Pennsylvania, including Centre County, from 7 p.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday in anticipation of patches of freezing rain. Anywhere from .01-1 inches of ice accumulation is expected in the State College area, resulting in “very slippery conditions” on untreated sidewalks, roads and bridges.
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Accuweather senior meterologist Paul Pastelok encourages people who need to travel this evening to try to do so before 9 p.m., when the freezing rain is expected to start.
“Temperatures are probably going to fall later this evening and get around the freezing point, and as precipitation comes in around 9 o’clock, you may have some issues as far as sleet or freezing rain on the front side of the system,” he said. “Now as storm gets a little bit closer to us, we’re thinking it could punch some warmer air to get those temperatures a little above the freezing mark into the mid or upper 30s, maybe closer to 40, and turn to mostly rain later tonight and tomorrow morning.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is also urging motorists to use caution and reduce their speed, while placing restrictions on certain vehicles. Double trailers, empty trailers, non-commercial vehicles pulling trailers, recreational vehicles and motorcycles are banned from traveling certain stretches of highway, including I-80 from the Bellefonte exit to the New Jersey border, and I-180 between Lewisburg and Williamsport, from 11 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday.
After this system pushes through, people can start to expect colder temperatures and blustery conditions.
AccuWeather and the National Weather Service are both calling for the possibility of afternoon snow showers and gusty wind conditions on Wednesday.
“It’ll be a little bit of a shocker because with the wind and lower temperatures, it’ll feel a little nasty out there — a little bit like yesterday with how windy it got,” Pastelok said. “That’s what we could be seeing, more dead branch trees lying on the roads and stuff like that, especially back roads.”
Although high are expected to be in the 30s, Pastelok said that with the wind, temperatures will feel more like they’re in the upper teens and 20s.
Then with a “light flow and high pressure control” near then end of the week, it could get “pretty darn cold,” Pastelok said.
AccuWeather is projecting highs of 29 degrees on Thursday and Friday, that will feel more like they’re in the teens.
“It looks like a pretty dour temperature drop here this week in State College,” Pastelok said.
With the colder temperatures, and depending on what happens with two developing storm systems, there could be some snow accumulation this weekend.
“There is a system that’s going to develop in the south and also a northern system, as well, that are going to try to come together on us,” Pastelok said. “Now if they do come together at the right time over the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley, we may have some snow knocking on our door for this weekend late Saturday into Sunday.”
After that, Pastelok said things will start to “get a little busier and more interesting,” with meteorologists having to keep their eyes on the south every four or five days, looking for possible systems that might be coming up north.
Then the region will likely see a “transition” at he end of the month into more typical winter temperatures than what late December and early January have brought.
“We think the air could get quite cold after this week, between Jan. 20 and 24, it will start transitioning over,” Pastelok said. “So late this month we could be seeing highs in the 20s, maybe struggling to get into the 20s a couple days, and nighttime lows getting down into the single digits and teens late this month.”
So for those who thought we got winter over with early this season when a winter storm dropped 7-11 inches in November, don’t get too excited just yet.
“Yeah, it took a break,” Pasetlok said about the winter weather. “We got hit in late November, early December; now we’re going to get hit here late January and early February.”