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October 21, 2013

Get ready to chill: When to expect the first snowfall

— It’s that dreaded four-letter word nobody wants to hear just yet: snow.

It’s looking more like flurries, at least for now, but colder temperatures are expected to move into the area late today and last through the weekend.

“The overall pattern is changing,” said Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather. “We saw a bit of chilly air this past weekend and more chilly weather is coming.”

A cold front that will be crossing the area has the potential to produce snow showers, with more of a chance into the weekend, when temperatures drop down into the mid-30s.

“Snow might cover the ground in higher terrains and ridgetops,” Kines said.

He said seeing snow flurries in late October isn’t out of the ordinary and happens, but temperatures will be below what is typical for this time of year.

“Normals are mid- to upper-50s, so 15 degrees below normal is a big difference.”

In preparation for the upcoming winter, PennDOT crews started in September to inspect vehicles and stock sheds with salt and anti-skid.

“They go through and make sure everything is in working order and ready to go,” said Tara Callahan-Henry, Penn-DOT spokeswoman for District 9, which covers Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties.

In Cambria County, all eight stock locations are at capacity and spreaders that put down the materials onto the roadways have been fitted on trucks.

“If we get any snow now, the ground is still warm and snow wouldn’t stick, but we are watching closely and preparing as needed,” Callahan-Henry said.

In addition, temporary drivers were added Monday to assist throughout the winter months. Starting next week, dispatchers at PennDOT maintenance locations will be in place 24/7 to deal with emergency situations.

“Now is a good time for people to check their own vehicles and make sure they have everything they need before it starts really snowing,” Callahan-Henry said.

At Ace Hardware in the West Hills Square in Lower Yoder Township, store employees are busy stocking the business with snowblowers, shovels, ice scrapers and brushes, winterizers for lawns and an array of salts.

“We actually sold a few snowblowers this past week and we placed our salt order this morning,” said Steve Johncola, store manager. “People want to be ready and prepared for when it hits.”

As for what’s in store this winter, Kines believes December and January will have above-normal temperatures, which typically hover around the freezing point. February and March will have normal to below-average temperatures with prolonged periods of cold air.

“Snow-wise, we’re not looking at anything special, just a typical winter season,” he said.

Kines estimated there will be snow totals of 40 inches in lower elevations and 60 inches in higher terrains from November through March.

Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/KellyUrban25.

 

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