Updated: 6:30 p.m.
An updated forecast from the National Weather Service says Bethlehem and the rest of the Lehigh Valley could be in for the first significant snowfall of the season on Saturday.
If the weather service forecast totals – between five and nine inches – come to fruition, it would set a record for snowfall in the Lehigh Valley in October. The current record was set on Halloween 1925, when 2.2 inches of snow fell.
A winter storm watch for our area was upgraded to a winter storm warning, now starting at 2 a.m. in the overnight and ending 2 a.m. Sunday.
The storm is expected to start as rain and change over to snow during the morning or early afternoon hours. Between six and 10 inches of snow could fall in some areas of eastern Pennsylvania, according to the weather service.
The weather service warns that trees, which still have leaves on them could become loaded with heavy, wet snow and have limbs break off. Power outages could be the result.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to activate its district command center at 7 a.m. Saturday with a full callout of road crews at that time, sooner if the storm arrives early, said Ron Young, a regional PennDOT spokesman.
In a news release issued Thursday, PennDOT reported that it has a stockpile of 642,000 tons of salt and plans to take delivery of more this winter. PennDOT used about 1 million tons of salt last winter.
The news release urged motorists to begin preparing now for winter driving, which includes having a mechanic check belts, hoses, battery and brakes and ensuring that your tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth.
"When driving on snow- or ice-covered roads, motorists should slow down, increase their following distance and never text while driving," the release said. "Last winter, there were 393 crashes resulting in three fatalities and 214 injuries on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways where aggressive-driving behaviors such as speeding or making careless lane changes were factors in the crash."
October snowfalls here are rare. This would be only the sixth recorded October snowfall in the Lehigh Valley since 1922, the first year for which the weather service has recorded data.
It would be the earliest snowfall in the Valley since 1979, when an inch of snow fell on October 10.
Patch invites you to send us your snow pictures. E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may see them on the website.