One of the toughest forecasts to make around here is deciding between rain, ice and snow. Ultimately, it's the temperature of the various layers of air from the ground up into the clouds that determines what kind of precipitation we get. And to a large extent, those temperatures depend on the direction of the wind. Air coming in off the ocean during winter can lead to warming, tipping the scales away from snow and ice.

Before an approaching storm, winds here can blow from a number of directions. A north wind will block any ocean influence, and keep cold air locked in. A northeast wind might allow some warming right near the coast, while an east wind will bring warmer air well inland. A strong east or southeast wind can cause changeovers to rain well west and even north of Wilmington and Philadelphia.

So when winter storms threaten in the coming months, pay close attention to the wind direction. You'll soon discover that as the wind goes, so often goes the weather.

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