Officials keep close eye on winter storm

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By Jenny Hartley

Local officials are keeping a close eye on the movements of a winter storm heading toward the state.

Lancaster County is under a winter weather advisory from 7 p.m. tonight to 11 a.m. Thursday.

Wintry precipitation is forecast to develop across the region by late tonight, according to the National Weather Service. Light snow will develop and mix with sleet and rain. There may be a period of light snow after midnight. The weather service said light accumulation is possible, but will be less than an inch.

According to the National Weather Service, a winter weather advisory means that periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. Drivers need to use caution and be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibility.

Lancaster County Emergency Management Director Morris Russell said the precipitation is expected to switch to all rain by 11 a.m. Thursday. But the mix overnight could accumulate or freeze on bridges and overpasses, so drivers will need to be careful when heading to work or school Thursday morning.

As for school, both Russell and Lancaster County School District spokesman David Knight said officials will be monitoring the storm overnight and don't know yet if there will be delays for government offices or schools.

"We're just going to see what the schools do and follow suit," Russell said Wednesday afternoon. "I can't say there will be a delay."

A two to three degree difference in temperature can mean the difference between snow accumulation, sleet or just rain, Russell said. Areas of snow or rain or freezing precipitation in between are often just miles apart.

"It's too tight to call at this point," Russell said. "These are tough ones to call. We're usually right on the line (for snow or rain).

Knight said the school district will use local news media, LearnTV and the Lancaster County School District Web site (wwww.lancasterscschools.org) to broadcast any delays. It will also use its ConnectEd telephone system to call all families in the school district. The district hopes to make that call, if needed, by 5:45 a.m., Knight said.

Thursday's high is expected to be about 37 degrees. It will be milder Friday, with a high of 53, but Saturday and Sunday's highs will only be in the 40s.

Contact Jenny Hartley at 283-1151 or jhartley@thelancasternews.com