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Environment & Science

UPDATE: Nor'easter to spare Lehigh Valley, but others brace for hit

Mount Holly
This graphic from the National Weather Service shows expected snow totals from a major coastal storm Monday into Tuesday.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — On the anniversary of the Blizzard of '93, forecasters say a complex coastal storm will develop on Monday, shifting from the Mid-Atlantic north into New England.

The impacts in the Lehigh Valley are still expected to be minimal, but remain sensitive to the track and intensity of the storm.

Overall, as of 4 p.m. Monday, snow total predictions have decreased somewhat across the area, according to the National Weather Service at Mt. Holly, NJ.

Snow totals will depend on elevation, they said, and higher spots could get twice as much as lower-lying areas.

We're currently in the warmer phase of the event with the rains moving north and the rain/snow line up in the Poconos but as the low strengthens later tonight, they said, the colder air will get pulled back south and snow will start to accumulate across the warning areas.

"Our updated totals are 12-14 inches for the Mount Pocono area and 6-8 inches for northern NJ and into adjacent counties," they said.

At minimum, the area is expected to see rain Monday before a change to snow Monday night and lasting through Tuesday morning, though accumulation is expected to be minor and mostly confined to north of the Interstate 78 corridor.

  • A major nor'easter is expected to form Monday
  • Impacts in the Lehigh Valley are expected to be minimal, but some accumulation could occur
  • Winter storm warnings are in effect in Carbon and Monroe counties

The bigger concern will be the winds out of the northwest at 20 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph.
Just north of the Valley, a winter storm warning is in effect from 6 p.m. Monday to 6 p.m. Tuesday for Carbon and Monroe counties, including the municipalities Jim Thorpe and Stroudsburg.

“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” the warning states, noting conditions could affect the morning or evening commute.

Motorists who must travel are advised to keep an extra flashlight, food and water in their vehicle in case of an emergency.

How is the storm developing?

The complex storm will come together as two disturbances are joined off the coast late Monday, leading to the development of a strong low-pressure system, or nor’easter.

Forecasters say guidance has gone back and forth on how the phasing of those two disturbances will occur. A faster phase would lead to the storm tracking closer to the coast, while a slower phase could move it further to the east.

The timing, temperatures and any wobbles or changes in the track will determine if the Lehigh Valley sees any additional impacts beyond what’s currently expected.


In terms of an expected timeline of events, mixed precipitation or rain will begin in the Lehigh Valley by mid-morning on Monday and rain is expected to continue through the afternoon and evening.

Overnight and into Tuesday morning, rain may mix with and change to snow, but little accumulation is expected.

Meteorologists say the majority of forecast models continue to suggest that rain will be the predominant precipitation type in the area.

“In the Poconos, the exception will be had, as temps there will be colder [near/below freezing]," the latest weather service forecast discussion said. "These temperatures will be cold enough for snow at the onset of precipitation Monday morning. The highest elevations will likely receive 1-4 inches of snow by midday Monday.”

Temperatures in the southern Poconos, especially in the higher elevations, will be cold enough to support all snow through Tuesday while the rain/snow line shifts south through the Lehigh Valley, mainly north of the I-78 corridor.

Very little if any accumulating snow is expected south of the I-78 corridor.

Totals and other impacts

In terms of snow totals, the weather service expects 1 to 2 feet of snow across Carbon and Monroe, though the highest amounts will be in the highest elevations.

Most areas will pick up about a foot or so from Monday night through Tuesday. From 6 to 10 inches of snow is possible just north of the I-78 corridor, mainly from early Tuesday through the day Tuesday.

Northwest winds of 20 to 30 mph, with 35 to 45 mph gusts — — just below wind advisory criteria — are expected in the areas with the heaviest snow.

Happy Anniversary?

Monday marks the 30th anniversary of the Blizzard of 1993.

The storm was termed the "Superstorm of 93" and ranks among the greatest winter storms ever to strike the eastern United States.

Across the region, wind gusts of 50-60 mph combined with blinding snows to create a blizzard on March 13, which then transitioned to heavy sleet during the afternoon.

Foot-plus totals fell along and northwest of I-95, with close to 2 feet of snow in the Poconos.