At the very least, it looks like the region is going to have a white solstice.
Yet another in a sequence of dune-ripping coastal storms is expected to leave up to a foot of snow in the region, with blizzard conditions possible near the Shore tomorrow.
If the forecasts are right, the views outside windows all over the Mid-Atlantic region tomorrow should resemble that of shredded coconut swirling in a Cuisinart.
"This could wind up being a historic event," said Louis Uccellini, a winter-storm expert who is director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, outside Washington.
On both sides of the Delaware River, state and county transportation agencies were getting ready to deploy their salt and plow armadas against nature's wintry invasion. Road crews already were spraying brine solutions to prevent icing on major roadways.
The snow is forecast to spread across the region during the early morning hours and get seriously cranking during the afternoon. The best estimate right now is for 8 to 12 inches across the region, according to the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.
"It looks really impressive," said Henry Margusity, a meteorologist with Accu-Weather Inc., the commercial service in State College, Pa.
Winter storm warnings were in effect for the entire region and as far north as the Poconos.
The storm could hammer the Shore with 35 to 45 m.p.h. winds, said weather service meteorologist Greg Heavener. If those peak winds come directly from the east, he said, the already storm-depleted beaches are in for another significant pounding. No matter what, he said, some erosion is a certainty.
The storm, which formed over the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to be off the Carolina coast tomorrow and become a full-blown nor'easter. Heavy snow already was falling from Asheville, N.C., to Roanoke, Va., Margusity said.
Nor'easters get their name from the powerful winds from the northeast they generate.
Winds circulate counterclockwise around storm centers, so areas to the north of the center get winds from the east; areas to the northwest, winds from the northeast. Heavener said this one could take a path that would favor more easterly winds at the beaches. They also might bring in some warm air off the ocean and perhaps cause the snow to mix with rain in the Shore towns, but that is uncertain.
The latest forecasts are starkly different from the outlooks earlier in the week when the computer models that meteorologists use to forecast the weather had the storm passing out to sea, with minimal impact on Philadelphia.
Uccellini said that some of the early model runs had heavy snow in Delaware and nothing in Philadelphia. However, subsequent runs have brought the snows farther north and west.
"The computer models play their own games," said Margusity, "but the reality is they always come farther north."
Temperatures won't be getting out of the 30s at least until late next week, with lows in the 20s, so the winter solstice on Monday should play out above a generous snow cover.
As for a white Christmas, another storm is due at the end of the week, but this one may pass to the west, which would put Philadelphia on the snow-melting side.
In any event, the melt material should be plentiful.
Said Margusity: "I think you guys are going to get a pretty good snowstorm."