Meteorologists are expecting a nor'easter that's heading for the York area to bring the season's first snow overnight Wednesday.

But while nor'easters have a reputation for slamming the area, this storm isn't expected to drop more than a manageable 5 inches of accumulation, if that.

A nor'easter is a storm, moving up the East Coast, that produces northeast winds. In Pennsylvania, when a storm takes this track, cold air is kept in, and "we're typically on the snow side of the storm," said Barry Lambert, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College.

While there's not a lot of cold air this early in the season to guarantee snow, the York area "is probably in for a few inches" Wednesday into Thursday, he said.

The timing: On its current track, much of the storm could fall in the form of rain during the day Wednesday and change to snow overnight into Thursday, Lambert said.

The amount of snowfall depends on how hard the precipitation falls. Small snowflakes melt fast when they hit the warmer ground, but big, fast ones make it to the ground to accumulate. Snow could accumulate even if it's as warm as 36 degrees Wednesday night, delivering "anywhere from 0 to 5 inches," Lambert said.

"We know York County is going to be affected from it," he said. "There will likely be some snow Wednesday night but it (depends on) whether it's able to pile up."

The storm is in two pieces, with one portion moving toward the area from Mississippi Monday morning.


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It'll cause an area of low pressure to develop along the southeast coast Tuesday and, as that migrates up the coast, a strong jetstream will "dive into it and intensify it further," he said.

Computer models showed a strengthening storm off the East Coast Wednesday into Thursday, with York on the western edge of the storm.

Tuesday will be sunny, with a high of about 45, "the proverbial calm before the storm," he said.

Highs are expected to be in the mid-40s Wednesday, with rain moving in around 2 p.m. Precipitation is expected to continue overnight, which has a forecasted low of between 33 and 37 degrees. The heaviest periods of rain or snow are expected to continue until about noon Thursday, Lambert said.

- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.