Forecast: York County in for a more wet than white Christmas
Heavy rain and melting snow could cause flooding and dampen travel plans in York County as a storm system moves over the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Christmas eve and into Christmas day.
Meteorologists are predicting up to 2 inches of rainfall on Thursday night alone — combined with about another inch of snowmelt — which could cause flooding throughout the York area.
"This is a pretty wide-reaching storm system that we're just going to be a part of," said Steve Travis, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in State College. "It's going to bring rain to a lot of the eastern U.S."
The weather service on Wednesday issued a flood watch from Thursday afternoon until Christmas morning for a portion of central Pennsylvania.
This includes York County as well as Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon and Perry counties.
The National Weather Service is expecting rises on small streams, with Susquehanna River flooding most likely upstream of Sunbury, in addition to significant urban flooding because of storm drains clogged by snow.
Travis said heavy rainfall is expected in York County mainly for late Thursday, and it should be gone by Friday.
"It is pretty quick-moving," he said. "It's going to leave behind quiet weather but pretty cold weather."
Christmas day will be chilly and breezy with temperatures in the high 30s and 24 mph winds.
Temperatures on Thursday will climb to the mid to upper 50s and stay there through the early overnight hours ahead of a cold front that's going to move across the region, according to the weather service.
The storm system will bring gusts as high as 41 mph on Christmas eve. This could blow down some outdoor Christmas ornaments.
The weather service said the unseasonably high temperatures on Thursday is about 15 degrees above normal for this time of year. Travis said temperatures will then drop rapidly into the teens on Christmas day, which could create slick spots.
Conditions might be cold enough for a brief period of snow in the York area as cold air moves in, Travis said — but not a lot.
"There could be a little bit of snow Thursday night or Friday morning, and that would be right on the backside of this cold front," he said. "There could be some snow mixed in before all of this moves out."
The weekend weather is a combination of cloudy to clear and sunny skies with highs in the 30s.