South Jersey has experienced its share of disruptive weather this winter, but the worst may be yet to come.

A winter storm warning will be in effect for the area starting 7 p.m. today and continuing through Thursday afternoon, with the potential to be the most significant statewide storm of the season to date, said state Climatologist David Robinson.

In an 11:30 a.m. weather update, the National Weather Service predicted much of the region would see between 4-6 inches. Coastal areas would see less but would have to deal with moderate flooding risks and winds gusting up to 50 mph.

The combination of heavy snow and high winds increased the risk of downed power lines. A small piece of good news: icy conditions appeared to be less likely. The next NWS update is due at 6 p.m.

“The whole state is impacted with a potential for moderate coastal flooding, and you have this multi-shot of snow, ice and rain,” Robinson said. “If I had a flight on Thursday, I would change it, I would have already changed it, and I expect wide-scale school cancellations throughout the state.”

The snow is expected to start falling this evening and should change to a mix of snow and rain by Thursday morning as temperatures warm to about 40 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. By mid-day Thursday it is expected to be primarily rain.

The forecast calls for up to 6 inches of snow for Atlantic, Cape, Cumberland and Ocean Counties, with the highest amounts inland and less along the coast.

As much as 10 inches is predicted for other parts of the state. But just a slight change in the storm’s intensity could change everything, Robinson said, and if the coastal storm tracks farther east than predicted, South Jersey could see more substantial accumulations.

A weather briefing from the NWS warned about wind gusts up to 50 mph along the coast, and up to 35 mph inland.

Jim Bunker, NWS observing program leader, said downed trees could result from the high winds and the heavy weight of the snow. Unlike Robinson, though, he said he doesn’t see a need to cancel or change plans.

“People need to just keep an eye on the weather and make extra time for your travels,” Bunker said. “Take it slow and easy on the roads.”

This storm also has the potential to make history in Philadelphia if it drops more than 6 inches of snow. That would result in the first time since modern day records started, during the winter 1884-1885, that Philadelphia has had four separate 6-inch-or-more snowstorms in one season, NWS said.

Philadelphia is currently having its 10th snowiest winter on record.

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