It’s unclear if this will be a farewell tour, but winter will make a dramatic reappearance in the Philadelphia area on Saturday, forecasters warn.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the city and areas west of the Delaware River for one to four inches of snow, and a wind advisory for the entire region from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for gusts. up to 50mph.
With temperatures dropping to zero or below during the afternoon, a sudden freeze, and maybe even a thunderstorm is possible.
A winter storm warning was in effect for areas as close as Lancaster County, and recent computer indications have been more optimistic for snow in the immediate Philadelphia area. “We had a cooler trend,” said Amanda Lee, a meteorologist with the Mount Holly Weather Service office.
She said the rain would start early Saturday morning, then mix and turn to snow in the afternoon as temperatures drop.
“There is a possibility of an instant freeze,” she said. Gusty winds were expected to develop in the afternoon, but they could have a mild effect by drying the moisture off the roads before they are icy.
After temperatures hit 60 degrees on Friday, paved surfaces will also have retained some warmth as readings will still be in the mid-40s overnight, but arctic air will push southeastward. Meanwhile, a coastal ‘bomb cyclone’ – a rapidly intensifying storm – is expected to erupt on Saturday, generating strong northeasterly winds that will hasten the process of change.
» READ MORE: What is a bomb cyclone?
“It looks like the colder air is coming a little faster,” said Paul Walker, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc.
The center of the storm is expected to track near the Mid-Atlantic coast, a little to the east of previous projections. As a result, this cold air would penetrate farther south than previous forecasts had indicated, the weather service said in its afternoon discussion.
Walker said three to six inches could accumulate in high areas north and west of the city.
The Weather Service was predicting just over two inches of snowfall in Philadelphia itself, with high neighborhoods such as Roxborough and Chestnut Hill likely seeing higher totals than downtown and places closer to the Delaware River, Lee said.
Daybreak temperatures on Sunday – which won’t occur until after 7 a.m. thanks to the start of daylight saving time – will drop to nearly 20 degrees in the city and teens elsewhere. They should not escape the thirties on Sunday.
It should be noted that this weekend marks the anniversaries of two of the most disruptive winter storms of the observing period – the famous blizzard of 1888, which paralyzed the northeast, and the “Superstorm” of March 1993, during which Philadelphia set its record for a March snowfall, with 12 inches.
» READ MORE: Here are the best snows of March
Said Walker, “Storms get quite volatile this time of year.”