The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

February 3, 2014

Meteorologist: Blame surprise snow storm on temperature

— DANVILLE — Valley residents awoke on Monday to what weather forecasters predicted would be a light snowfall, one that would stop by mid-morning and not be a burden to daily routines or drivers.

Boy, were they wrong.

Forecasters told viewers and readers Sunday night and even Monday morning that the snow would not amount to much, but to look ahead to early Wednesday morning, where a more troublesome storm is on the horizon.

Surprise. Residents across the Valley saw anywhere from two to five inches of snow Monday, and the flakes didn’t taper off until nearly 3 p.m.

As a result, there were a number of motor vehicle accidents around the Valley, including one where a Shikellamy school bus was rear-ended on Snydertown Road. No students were injured, officials said.

AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines said the unexpected snow could be blamed on the temperature.

“It made a huge difference,” he said. “A lot of the snow fell at 32 degrees, and about one degree higher, we wouldn’t have seen so much.”

Kines said by the time the temperature did rise, it was snowing hard, “and it just accumulated fast.”

“The colder the air mass, the less moisture the atmosphere can hold, so when it’s warmer, you get more snow,” he said. “Most of times, real heavy snows occur when the temperature is about 30 to 32 degrees.”

The problem is the snow is just beginning, Kines said.

“We’ve got two storms to deal with this week,” he said. “Tuesday night into Wednesday, we will see snow but with some rain, sleet and freezing rain involved.”

A National Weather Service Winter Storm Watch issued Monday night advised the overnight storm will bring heavy snow at times and will accumulate to six inches or more. Kines was more concerned about a storm forecast to arrive Sunday night.

“We are showing some concern with this one,” he said. “It is really too early to tell, but this could be a significant snowfall with the possibility of more than six inches falling, but there will be some rain and sleet mixed in as well.”

As Monday’s morning commute began, several school districts began canceling classes, but Shikellamy Superintendent Pat Kelley said he was going by the decision of the rest of the districts across the Valley.

“We didn’t see anything major,” he said.

Kelley said the bus accident on Snydertown Road involved 20 Shikellamy students. “A car drove into the back of the bus,” Kelley said. “There were no injuries, but we had to get another bus to come and pick up the students.”

The Sunbury area wasn’t the only slick spot.

Cars and pickups slid and swerved across main thoroughfares and back roads all Monday afternoon.

And in Danville, a crash occurred at 8:15 a.m. on Liberty Valley Road, but no injuries were reported. Another accident was reported at 11:30 a.m. at the bottom of the Washingtonville Hill in Valley Township, Montour County. A third accident, with unknown injuries, occurred at 1:15 p.m. on Route 642 in Liberty Township, Montour County.

In Milton, there were accidents at 6 and 9 a.m. on Plum Street and Old Turnpike Road, respectively, due to snowy street conditions.

The later crash at Old Turnpike and Skunk Hollow roads occurred when a Toyota was hit by a snow plow truck that had been backing up. No one was injured. Earlier, a woman, driving at a safe speed, could not control her car after applying the brakes.

At 9 a.m., a driver traveling north on Route 1023 in Selinsgrove lost control of his BMW and hit a Ford F-150 that was parked in a lot.

A woman driving a Subaru Outback on Snydertown Road, Upper Augusta Township, lost control and slid into a state Department of Transportation traffic sign.

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