In a year already colored by rare natural events, including an earthquake and a strike from Hurricane Irene, New York could receive an all-time record snowfall for the month of October on Saturday, according to forecasts.
The latest models call for a 90 percent chance of four to six inches of snow in New York Saturday evening, with a low temperature of 32 degrees.
If the snowfall materializes as forecast, beginning earlier in the day as a mix of rain and snow, it could easily become the largest October snowfall on record for New York. Previously, the largest such snowfall recorded in New York was 0.8 inches in Central Park on Oct. 31, 1925.
Inland areas of the U.S. Northeast are expected to get the brunt of the storm, with total of six to 12 inches of heavy, wet snow falling northwest of Interstate 95, from Pennsylvania to New York and Massachusetts. Cities in the heaviest snow forecast area Saturday include Allentown, Pa., Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Worcester, Mass.
Tree damage and power outages are likely for the area, forecasters say, due to the nature of the heavy, wet snow that's expected to fall into warm surface temperatures.
But rare accumulating snow could fall Saturday closer to the coast, in cities including Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, forecasters at The Weather Channel said -- claiming the season's first nor'easter targets the I-95 corridor.
On Saturday night in New York, rain is expected to turn to all snow late with four to six inches of accumulation expected and winds from the north-northwest at 15 to 25 miles per hour.
Precipitation will start as rain in these locations, but may change over to snow. How quickly this occurs and how much snow falls is dependent on the availability of enough cold air, which is difficult to forecast early in the season.
The forecast high for New York on Saturday is 44 degrees, but if cold air aloft is deep enough for snow to arrive at the surface without melting, then snowfall could occur, with rain potentially changing completely over to heavy, wet snow. A difference of just a few degrees could mean either some flakes mixing with rain for New York or four to six inches of accumulation on grassy areas like Central Park.
Also, when the low-pressure system is strong, as models indicate regarding the one approaching the Northeast Saturday, dynamic cooling can increase the odds of snow by cooling the air more than current forecast models show. Also, Saturday night's low is forecast to reach 32 degrees.
If measurable snow falls on New York, it will be a rarity. According to The Weather Channel, measurable snow has only been recorded three times in New York during the month of October. The earliest measurable snow occurred on Oct. 15, 1876. Philadelphia has a similar history, as measurable snow has been recorded in that city only five times during the month of October.