EAST LIVERPOOL - Another winter storm headed our way, predicted to begin last night, could leave behind up to a half-inch of ice.
The winter storm warning, issued by the National Weather Service, was to run from 7 p.m. Tuesday through 1 p.m. today. Forecasts varied from source to source, but all agreed that precipitation, including sleet and freezing rain, was a certainty.
Predictions for snowfall ranged anywhere from 2 to 7 inches. However, it was the wintry mix of precipitation that had many worried.
The Ohio River began to thaw as temperatures rose into the 30’s and a warm sun shone on Monday. It may may not stay liquid for long as lows are forecast to fall into the single digits by the middle of the week. (Photo by Devin Bezeredi)
Meteorologist Alicia Miller with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh said the mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain was due to a low pressure system. She noted the same system had dumped considerable amounts of snow on the Midwest earlier this week.
Miller said the system was predicted to start out as a heavy snow in the Tri-State Area, initially, and change to a wintry mix around midnight.
She predicted that warm air on the southern side of the system and cold air on the northern side would mix, creating the mix precipitation, especially for areas of the West Virginia panhandle and areas further south. Conversely, she said areas in northern Ohio and Pennsylvania will see more snow due to lower temperatures.
"We're in the situation where, initially, because the temperatures are so cold, any moisture will be snow, but as the low approaches it will bring in warmer air and that'll change it over to sleet and eventually freezing rain," said Miller.
Predicting what kind of precipitation will fall and where can be tricky, she said, because the track of the low pressure system is constantly changing
"For our area, just because of where the low is going, it causes some issues with determining what precipitation type is going to be the main problem," said Miller.
Snow and freezing rain are forecast to taper off by 11 this morning, which could result in a bad morning commute. Untreated roadways likely will be slick, and motorists are advised to give themselves extra time to get to work.
St. Clair Township Road Foreman Scott Barrett was, as usual, keeping an eye on forecasts Tuesday afternoon, and taking steps to prepare for icy conditions. He said his crews had been out pre-treating troublesome areas such as hillsides and intersections with salt and other materials.
"We try to stay ahead of it," said Barrett.
Despite a statewide shortage of road salt, Barrett said his department has enough salt and other road material stockpiled to handle the predicted large snowfall.
Barrett said he is hoping the snow will fall before any wintry mix hits the ground. He explained that when freezing rain falls atop a layer of snow it is much easier for plow trucks to remove. A layer of just ice on the roadway, meanwhile, makes the large plow trucks hard to steer in addition to the added treachery of slick roadways.