Old Man Winter

The sunny blue sky on Wednesday held no indication for the smack of winter in today’s forecast. Snow and high winds are called for today, with snow and a wintry mix on Saturday.

In all fairness, it is January, so today’s forecasted snowstorm probably shouldn’t be a surprise.

John Ceru, meteorologist with the National Weather Service at State College, said winter so far in Pennsylvania’s snow belt hasn’t been normal. “You’ve had a very mild December and early January.”

Winter returns with a vengeance in the next few days — including today’s winter weather advisory.

“We’re looking at a lake effect event with two to three inches in most places,” Ceru said, “four inches in higher elevations. We’re looking at some winds, west to northwest winds gusting at 40 miles per hour.”

Expect travel to be hazardous throughout the day, he cautioned, as the advisory is from 3 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“The biggest concerns are slippery roads and blowing snow that could allow for brief, heavier snow squalls and very poor visibility, less than a quarter-mile,” Ceru said. “It’s going to impact road travel. That’s a big concern with this.

“It’s going to decrease the visibility in the roadways and make for hazardous driving conditions for the morning and evening commute,” he said.

While today’s weather is expected to be bad, Friday is shaping up to be quiet, weather-wise. But that’s not going to last.

“Then the next system is going to be coming in late Friday night and into Saturday and that is going to be a larger system,” he explained. “It should arrive in the early morning hours Saturday and that’s going to bring periods of potentially heavy-at-times snowfall.”

Ceru said there’s a warm air loft “and that’s going to allow for change of precipitation to a wintry mix.” The meteorologists were unsure as of Wednesday afternoon exactly what the wintry mix would entail.

“If it’s snow first, then falls as rain or freezing rain, you get a crust on top of the snow. If you get freezing rain, then you could have problems with power lines and tree limbs falling.

“We’re taking a look at how much ice and snow accumulation we’re going to receive,” Ceru said.

He said the storm will start to lift late Saturday, and some snow will follow it for Sunday, which will taper off into Monday.

Next week will have less snow, with only a 20 to 30 percent chance, but Ceru noted, “It’s going to be cold.”