The rain is on the way but will take its time getting here, raising the icing threat for the Lehigh Valley through the evening rush.
That’s the latest update from meteorologist Ed Vallee of Empire Weather, who said the biggest takeaway message this afternoon is that just because it’s not snowing doesn’t mean it’s not bad outside.
Vallee said the Lehigh Valley isn’t getting wind off the Atlantic to help raise temperatures. That means the door has remained open for colder air funneling from the Hudson Valley, down through the Poconos and into our area, and it’s keeping temperatures well below freezing.
“The warm air is lagging a little bit behind, maybe two to three hours behind schedule. That’s going to limit the rainfall risk but heighten the icing risk,” Vallee said.
He said the latest data shows the cold air lingering, with an opportunity for freezing rain after 4 p.m. and onward.
“If you put the two [sleet and freezing rain] together, that’s one of the slickest surfaces you can have weather-wise,” Vallee warned.
The Weather Channel shows up in Allentown
The jokes outside of Allentown’s PPL Center this morning included some whispers about the men in the big blue coats.
No, one of them wasn’t Jim Cantore, whose appearance in towns and cities across the country seems to indicate a perilous Doomsday to weather watchers.
But the rumors were true — The Weather Channel had arrived and so had the storm.
The Lehigh Valley had the luxury of easing into today’s winter storm, as the overnight hours saw a few inches of snow fall before a break in the precipitation.
Naturally, the lull prompted some social media conversation about the possibility of another “bust” of a snow storm.
The big blue coats assured us the bust was not to be. Precipitation picked up in a hurry around 8:30 a.m. as The Weather Channel’s Justin Michaels worked with a small but bustling crew scrambling to shield equipment from the wet conditions.
By 9 a.m., an expansive swath of snow had made a full push into the area but quickly turned to heavy sleet.
With temperatures dropping to 29 degrees, it will continue to make for slippery and dangerous roads.
Nearly all the Lehigh Valley school districts are closed today, with the National Weather Service issuing a winter storm warning in effect until midnight.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike banned commercial vehicles, including trucks and buses, for periods today during the winter storm.
Depending on conditions, restrictions may be expanded or reduced throughout the day.
LANTA shut down bus service at noon, and around the same time several flights in and out of Lehigh Valley International Airport were cancelled.
Gov. Wolf asks residents to remain vigilant
Governor Tom Wolf reminded Pennsylvanians and those traveling in the state to be vigilant as the winter storm continued.
“Stay safe out there, everyone,” Gov. Wolf said. “It’s a wintry mess and we want everyone to use extreme caution when driving, shoveling, and while enjoying the snow.”
Wolf said the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency continues to monitor the storm and remains in contract with state agencies and local emergency management personnel to ensure all needs are met.
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