OK, campers, rise and shine! Groundhog Day is going to literally feel like Groundhog Day this year.
For the third weekend in a row, a storm system with the potential to drop heavy precipitation is forecast for Schuylkill County.
By the end of this week, you’re going to feel like … Phil?!
Groundhog Day Storm 2020?
This weekend, some forecasters and computer forecast models suggest we could be in line for a HUGE snowstorm on Groundhog Day, February 2.
Those same models also suggest we only get between 3-6 inches of snow.
And then there are others who have no idea what those first ones are talking about.
Right now, it’s too far away to be certain it’ll do anything. We’ll keep you updated on the storm as the week progresses. But here’s what we know now, based on our analysis of various forecasts.
The Main Ingredients
Every armchair meteorologist knows that one thing you absolutely need for a big coastal snowstorm, you need moisture coming out of the Gulf of Mexico.
According to Accuweather.com, that’s what’s expected to form on Friday. They’re saying it has potential to be “sizable and potent.”
Now, what happens next determines whether we get a bunch of snow, a bunch of rain, or a little bit of everything but not a lot.
The Weather Channel says if a jet stream dip matches up with that coastal system, it could mean big-time snow here in Schuylkill County. The jet stream will determine which path the storm out of the South follows:
Groundhog Day Storm 2020: Path 1 (Rain)
The first path brings Schuylkill County a lot of rain.
This is the one where we don’t watch out for the first step.
As the storm forming in the Gulf of Mexico heads northeast, it tracks west of the Appalachian Mountains. That keeps cold air to our west and brings us a lot of rain.
Groundhog Day Storm 2020: Path 2 (Big Snow)
Those wishing for a big snowstorm this season will be hoping for this path. That Gulf moisture moves northeast but toward the East coast of the US. It takes that familiar path up the coast and throws a lot of snow onto Schuylkill County.
Punches us right in the nose …
In a post to his Weather Talk: Schuylkill Edition Facebook group, Schuylkill County forecaster Ryan Fannock says of this path, “I’m talking a couple feet of snow IF EVERY INGREDIENT IN THE EQUATION WORKS OUT. If it rides up the coast, it’s game on boys and girls!”
It’s all fun and games until you have to start shoveling; just remember that.
Path 2, Option B: It never gets cold enough over the next week and even though the storm system tracks up the East Coast, we still get mostly rain here in Schuylkill County.
Groundhog Day Storm 2020: Path 3 (A Nothing Burger)
The third path this potential storm can take is similar to Path 2. However, instead of tracking up the coast, the storm system reaches a certain point and then trails off into the Atlantic Ocean.
Fannock says of this path, “Current modeling has it taking the (path out to sea). This is what we’d call a ‘fish storm’ because it’s heading out over the Atlantic. If all the ingredients needed don’t occur, you can kiss this storm chance goodbye.”
Computer Models Playing Games
Again, we’re about a week away from a potential Groundhog Day 2020 snowstorm. As we’ve seen time and again, these computer models tend to be as reliable as an R-title car for sale on Facebook Marketplace.
In fact, nearly a week ago, our friend Fannock noted a weird readout from his GFS model run (that’s one of the computer models). He says, on Monday, it showed Schuylkill County forecast to receive 28-32 inches of snow over the next 15 days — enough to get us through Groundhog Day.
An update from Fannock on Saturday evening offers up another situation:
Groundhog Day Storm 2020: Path 4 (Some Snow)
Fannock is far from actually predicting this weekend’s potential storm. But he did offer up what he thinks might happen. He says a different “clipper” system could impact our snow totals here. While places in West Virginia and western Pennsylvania could get 2 feet of snow or more, that clipper could keep Schuylkill County in the 3-6 inch range.
However, if temperatures don’t drop too much from the expected highs this week hovering around 40 degrees, it could mean more of a mixed precipitation.
Every forecast agrees that it’s a full week away from a potential storm here in Schuylkill County. Predicting what could happen is very unpredictable. However, it’s important to note that following the forecast throughout the week allows you to get prepared in the event a big storm hits.
Stay with The Canary through the week as we track the weather trackers ahead of a potential Groundhog Day storm.