February Forecast Calls for Snow but Remains Below Winter Records

A storm is projected to hit the region Thursday. Here’s what to expect and how to pass the time.

This year’s weather has been decidedly unseasonable, dipping into the frigid teens and then bouncing into the 50s days later. With the yo-yoing temperatures, there’s been little chance for any significant snow accumulation in Southeastern Pennsylvania in 2017. Thursday’s projected storm may change that, but is unlikely to touch historic records of year’s past.

One of the most notorious storms in recent history, aside from last year’s winter storm Jonas, the most recent barrage of snow hit the northeast during the winter of 1996.The nor’easter whipped up a recipe for disaster and called for 31 inches of danger: snowdrifts buried cars and crosswalks, ice coated roads, and some rooftops even collapsed under the weight of accumulation. The conditions warranted a state of emergency declared by then-mayor Ed Rendell.

Though smaller than the 1996 nor’easter, the storm of 1909 turned Main Liners’ dreams of a white Christmas into a nightmare. On Christmas day, while families nestled inside, Mother Nature unleashed 21 inches of snow across the Philadelphia region.

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Historically, snowstorms in the area have been confined to the winter months, but on April 3, 1915, winter wasn’t ready to relinquish its grip. The unseasonal snowfall piled 19.4 inches over the area. The spontaneity of an unseasonal storm makes it harder to prepare for than other winter forecasts and warrants just as dangerous conditions when mild temperatures follow and cause flooding.  

Though last year’s storm Jonas rivaled previous records, the forecast for this year will present a mild winter season in comparison. Meteorologist and professor of planetary science at Villanova University, Edward Guinan, says the winter forecast for the remainder of the season will be nothing out of the ordinary.

“The average snowfall in February and March each year is about 22 inches. This year, we can expect about 15 inches total,” he says. Guinan sees two or three more snowfalls on the radar but none are of the same caliber as Jonas or previous historical weather incidents. “We should expect about two to four inches per snow fall, so nothing major.”

Thursday’s projected storm forecasts are ranging widely, from a minor 1-3 inches, to a more substantial 4-8 inches. Temperatures are expected to drop Wednesday night to freezing, with snow beginning in the early hours of the morning. Snow is expected to taper off by mid afternoon on Thursday. Snowfall may be heavy at times.

Avoid cabin fever and stay safe with these tips:  

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Don’t panic over pantry problems. Before rushing to the grocery store and sweeping the shelves clean of bread and milk, peak inside the pantry. Channel your inner chef by improvising ingredients and dishes, but head out to grab staples, if necessary. If your attempt to be a Food Network star goes south, bread, peanut butter and canned soup should suffice. 

Get lost in a book. There is no shame in completing your summer reading list in the winter. Take advantage of the weather conditions and indulge in some armchair travel like Elizabeth Bard’s Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes. If you feel like revisiting an old friend, save some room on the couch for Lauren Graham who shares delicious details about the Gilmore Girl’s revival in her memoir Talking as Fast as I Can. For those who are searching for a gritty crime fiction experience, reach for the latest addition to Tana French’s Dublin murder squad, Trespasser.

Play a board game. Keep Monopoly on the closet shelf and opt for a more interactive game you can enjoy with who ever you are snowed in with. Whether you are a Picasso or stick figure artiste, Pictionary is a fun way to laugh at the group’s artistic abilities or doodle fails. Heads-up can be played with two or more people and tests your knowledge on everything from pop culture to zoo animals.

Suit up for the snow. Once the snow has stopped and it’s safe to head outside, consider braving the snow-capped trenches and channel your inner child. Just make sure you are armed with lots of layers and limit exposure and time outdoors.

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