Not this again: Freak snowstorm slams area, closes down roadways
March didn't get the memo that it is supposed to, as the old saying goes, "come in like a lion and go out like a lamb."
Earlier in the month, a prediction of a 10-inch snowfall failed to materialize as only a coating occurred. Sunday, what was predicted to be a cold rain all day turned into a snowstorm, sometimes called the "onion snow," which dropped around 4 to 6 inches in the area by Sunday evening. Some News-Item readers reported measurements upwards of 7 and 8 inches.
John LaCorte, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) office in State College, said that a fluctuation in temperature changed the precipitation from rain drops to ice crystals to snowflakes.
"We knew that it was going to be a cold rain, but when a temperature like that has a drop from 34 degrees to 32, this is what happens," LaCorte said.
There was a chance of snow in the higher elevations, but the change in temperature pushed the winter weather lower.
"Most of our coverage area got an average of 3 to 4 inches, but we've had reports as high as seven inches," LaCorte said. "It all depended on how fast and how hard the snow came down. Some places got just a slushy coating, others got more."
The mid-afternoon snow made for a travel nightmare in the area as drivers soon found themselves either skidding into ditches or stuck on slippery slopes.
At several points during the day, Route 54 on both sides of Elysburg, Route 125 between Shamokin and Gowen City and Route 901 between Coal Township and Locust Gap and also between Locust Summit and Lavelle were closed due to hazardous conditions. Reports of stuck vehicles was a common theme throughout the day.
The heavy, wet snow led to several trees to be felled. Power outages increased as the evening wore on. As of 10 p.m., 1,885 PPL customers in Northumberland County and 551 in Columbia County were without power.
The last blast from Old Man Winter should not last long. High temperatures are on the horizon starting today and the sun is set to make an appearance Tuesday with the week's highest temperature predicted at 57 degrees.
"It's reasonable that this could be winter's last hurrah, but no one can tell for sure," LaCorte said. "It has snowed in April. Personally, this has been a very long winter and I can only hope this is the end."