Maybe the kids won't get to use their new sleds come Monday after all.

On the other hand, travelers take heart.

The Thursday morning forecast that said Philadelphia had a shot at a half-foot of snow by Monday afternoon yielded to new computer recalculations that called for, well, maybe nothing.

"We are keeping the chance for snow in the forecast, but if we see one more model run, we might have to throw it out," said Bob Wanton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly. "It does not look like a big event, especially for the Philadelphia area."

The system, as it moves northward from the Carolinas, now seems much more likely to pass by well out to sea.

The Shore forecast that earlier said maybe - maybe - a foot or more now suggests a couple of inches is about the upper limit, Wanton said.

The rest of the East Coast - especially south of Long Island - also is likely to be largely spared, said Brian Edwards, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.

The system, which is still developing out of storms that caused severe flooding in California and the Southwest, could bring a white Christmas to the Tennessee Valley before combining with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to create the storm that will navigate up the Atlantic Seaboard.

Along the coast, the Carolinas are likely to see only light snow or sleet, and it's possible that places east of I-95, from Delmarva to North Jersey, might see about an inch or so of white stuff, Edwards said.

So airports from New York City south shouldn't see much disruption, he said.

Air travelers, though, should always check the status of flights before heading to the airport, advises Mark Pesce, spokesman for Philadelphia International Airport.

Arrival and departure information is available through the airlines, the airport's website (www.phl.org) or its toll-free hotline, 1-800-745-4283 (1-800-PHL-GATE).

The storm could still wreak some havoc from eastern Long Island to southeastern Massachusetts up into Maine. "I think they stand the best chance of getting a significant amount of snow from this," Edwards said.

Even there, though, the forecast no longer mentions the word blizzard, he said.

The forecast is unlikely to swing back toward a major snowfall because upper-air patterns seem poised to keep the storm's path well off the Jersey coast, Wanton said.

"I would be kind of shocked to see it moved 200, 300 miles west," he said.

Still, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to be vigilant about the weekend forecast. "It's certainly something we'll keep an eye on and be ready to act accordingly," said spokesman Eugene Blaum.

Highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s are predicted through Wednesday for Philadelphia.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.