Afternoon storm on Wednesday looks to make a messy commute

A clipper coming in from Alberta, Canada is expected to hit Chester County and surrounding areas with snow and ice Wednesday afternoon.
A clipper coming in from Alberta, Canada is expected to hit Chester County and surrounding areas with snow and ice Wednesday afternoon. Ryan Blackwell — Digital First Media

WEST CHESTER >> For those of you who don’t know – or don’t care – Alberta is a western province of Canada. And a “clipper” is a quick moving winter storm. Put the two together and you have a messy Wednesday commute around here.

According to AccuWeather Senior Meterologist Alex Sosnowski, the second of a couple of Alberta Clipper storms on Wednesday will drop snow on the Philadelphia area as well as northern Maryland, northern Delaware, and southern New Jersey.

What does that mean for us? Well, it means driving home Wednesday afternoon just got a lot more complicated.

“Snow will struggle to accumulate around the city, where it can be mixed with rain at times. However, areas north and west could receive a couple of inches from the fast-moving storm,” writes Sosnowski. “People heading home from work or school Wednesday afternoon and evening could face slippery roads and sidewalks as these surfaces cool and the snow begins to stick.”

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As if the weekend’s surprise ice event wasn’t enough, now Chester County residents can deal with a storm basically at rush hour. Trucks were seen out Tuesday morning spreading brine solution along roadways in the Phoenixville and Charlestown areas.

According to Gene Blaum, PennDOT spokesman, PennDOT today is spraying salt brine on expressways, traffic routes and other state roads in Chester County and the four other counties in the region (Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia) in preparation for the clipper that is expected to bring snow to the region Wednesday. The brine, which is 23 percent salt, helps to slow or prevent the snow from forming a bond with the pavement during the early stages of a storm.

“PennDOT will use all state salt trucks (182) tomorrow in the region to spread salt to keep roads wet and plow if necessary,” Blaum said. “We have 44 state salt trucks in Chester County. PennDOT will also use a number of contractor trucks tomorrow to salt and plow if necessary but that number will be determined by each of our county maintenance managers later tonight.”

According to Blaum, the amount of salt used by PennDOT in southeastern Pennsylvania prior to this past Sunday was 24,070 tons. PennDOT has 92,278 tons of salt stockpiled in the region, he noted.

“With the timing of this storm likely to bring snow to the region in the afternoon and evening rush, we urge motorists to drive carefully: reduce travel speeds, leave plenty of extra distanced between yourself and the vehicle in front of you, and give yourself more time for travel,” Blaum said.

Blaum reminded motorists that they can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com. He said 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 700 traffic cameras.

It is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

So the forecast for tomorrow will be colder with snow later in the day, a high of 34 and a low of 27.

And don’t relax yet. Sosnowski says “… a potentially stronger and much larger storm is being watched for the possibility of wintry precipitation on Saturday.”