A possible snowstorm is in the works for tonight as cold weather systems move into the Northeast, but area hardware store managers say they are ready to help residents face the snow and ice.
"What we have to watch for is snow late Thursday night," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Mike Pigott said. "[The storm] will be a short duration but could be a pretty heavy burst of snow."
Rain heading east across the Great Lakes will bring wet weather to the area throughout the day, with the highest temperatures in the low 50s, Pigott said.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Andrew Whiles of Patton looks over the selection of snowblowers available at Lowe’s on Wednesday afternoon.
By tonight, an arctic cold front from the Midwest will plunge temperatures into the 20s - and motorists need to be careful about possible icy conditions on roadways.
"Watch for icy roads. It could be a potentially dangerous situation as roads begin to freeze," Pigott said.
Lower-lying areas can expect 1 to 2 inches of snow, while higher elevations may see up to 3 inches of snowfall accumulate on the ground tonight, Pigott said.
The cold will linger in the area throughout the weekend, he added.
Temperatures in the 20s Friday through Sunday means winter weather could be here to stay.
Managers at local hardware stores say they welcome the challenge the snow and ice will bring.
"We have a lot of snow removal equipment, snowblowers, shovels and different kinds of salt in stock," Lowe's Assistant Manager Larry Moore said.
Although the relative lack of snowfall has not caused shoppers to stock up ahead of time, shoppers will have options when it comes to finding shovels and de-icing supplies at the Altoona store.
"We really haven't had a lot of snow this year, but once it hits, people will be thinking about that kind of stuff," Moore said. "And we're very well stocked."
Store Manager Tom Irwin said Fiore True Value Hardware in Altoona is currently stocked with shovels and heavy equipment like snowblowers, but he doesn't expect shoppers to come in until after the snow is falling.
"Some do plan ahead, but by and large, when the snow comes, people go out to start their snowblower and look for shovels," Irwin said. "And if they don't find it, we're prepared."
In Ebensburg, Ace Hardware Store Manager Barb Lego is ready to combat the weather and help residents have fun while doing so.
"We've got a full line of snow shovels and salt. Plus we have sleds for the kids and little shovels," Lego said.
Residents can also stock up on winter gloves as well as car accessories such as windshield and lock de-icers ahead of the weekend cold, she said.
Regular citizens aren't the only ones who have to get ready for wintry weather.
"We are monitoring the situation and will continue to keep our eyes on it," PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar said. "We're prepared for these kinds of events."
Even with plow crews out on area roads, motorists need to be careful and use their best judgment when driving this weekend, he said.
Pigott said the possibility of ice and flurries throughout the weekend will keep motorists and residents on their toes.
"What we're going to have to watch out for is when snow comes in [tonight], it could be a quick bursts of heavy hitting snow and that could catch people by surprise," Pigott said.
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.