The amount of snow, sleet or freezing rain that could drop in York, Lancaster and Chester counties through Monday could vary widely depending on location, emergency officials say.
The dividing line between inches of snow and almost none is forecast to run through northern York and Lancaster counties, National Weather Service officials said Friday.
The potential for freezing rain, which can cause widespread power outages and dangerous roads, is real, emergency officials said.
Western and northern York County could see several inches of snow. Forecasts for southern and eastern York County are as low as a trace of snow to an inch or two.
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York and Lancaster counties are under winter weather advisories from the National Weather Service through Monday.
The winter storm watch includes a “glaze of ice” that could make travel dangerous, weather officials said.
The storm is expected to start late Saturday and continue through Monday, officials said.
Area school districts have not yet made decisions on potential school closings for Monday.
“We are seeing some forecasts that have Gaston County in North Carolina that is on our northern border near Lake Wylie getting as much as 10 inches of snow, with Rock Hill 25 or 30 miles away getting as little as an inch or less of snow with more freezing rain,” said Chuck Haynes, York County director of emergency preparedness.
Haynes said: “It all depends on the dividing line of the storm. But it appears the farther north you are, the more likely it will be snow. South, more sleet and freezing rain.”
Freezing rain or heavy snow that accumulates on trees and power lines can cause utility outages, emergency officials said. Roads can also become treacherous, officials said.
“Just a quarter inch of freezing rain, or even less, that accumulates can be a problem for power and for roads,” said Ed Darby, assistant director of Chester County Emergency Management. “It will be safer if people can stay off the roads Saturday night and Sunday if at all possible.”
Eddie Murphy, Chester emergency management director, said it looks like ice is the worst threat.
Northern Lancaster County in the panhandle and Indian Land could see as much as eight inches of snow if some forecasts hold up, said Darren Player, emergency management director. Areas farther south are looking at less snow, with more freezing rain, Player said.
“That freezing rain, with trees already weakened by this year’s weather, could be a problem when the rain turns to ice for power outages,” Player said.
Residents are urged to monitor weather forecasts that have continued to change as the storm approaches.
“We ask the public to be prepared and ready,” Haynes said.
Utilities in the three counties are preparing to respond if the storm causes outages, officials said. Duke Energy spokesman Ryan Mosier said power outages are likely, and crews are prepared to respond..
Rock Hill utility crews have equipment ready to handle outages, said Katie Quinn, spokesperson for the city.
Check heraldonline.com through the weekend for weather coverage.