Say goodbye to sun and spring-like temperatures for at least the next few days. A massive storm is sweeping through Philly, promising to drop between 12 to 18 inches of snow in the city, according to a statement from the mayor’s office.
On Tuesday afternoon, the city declared a snow emergency, which begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday and means that all parked cars must be moved from select routes—including Broad and Market streets—so workers can plow the roads, according to the statement. The city included a full list of emergency routes on their website. Officials said the city could see between one and three inches of heavy snow per hour.
The announcement came hours after the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a winter storm warning for the city of Philadelphia and surrounding counties Tuesday morning. The warning goes into effect from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 2 a.m. Thursday and the NWS said to expect poor driving conditions and low visibility.
Public transportation is expected to be affected throughout the city and surrounding areas until Thursday morning, SEPTA announced Tuesday. They cancelled the Nite Owl bus on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and instead, announced the Broad Street Line and Market Frankford Line would be running every 20 minutes all night.
SEPTA also warned commuters that regional rail lines will be running on a Saturday schedule and are expected to face delays and possible cancellations as the storm progresses. The Cynwyd Line has already been cancelled for Wednesday.
For those traveling by trolley or bus, SEPTA urged looking out for delays and cancellations starting around 8 a.m. Wednesday, especially for busses that travel through hilly areas.
Because of risky driving conditions during the storm, the Pennsylvania Turnpike announced Tuesday that they’re banning several types of vehicles from sections of the turnpike starting at 8 p.m. Those include motorcycles, RVs, trailers pulled by any vehicles (including passenger cars), empty straight CDL-weighted trucks and double trailers. Their ban covers the east-west section of the turnpike, including I-76, 70/76 and 276, and the entire Northeast Extension of I-476.
The Office of Emergency Management warned drivers against getting on the roads in a tweet Tuesday morning.
Winter Storm Warning in effect from 6PM until 2AM 03/22. Heavy snow expected. Travel is strongly discouraged. https://t.co/sUvApEqLkP— Philadelphia OEM (@PhilaOEM) March 20, 2018
The city delved into their preparations for the storm in their statement Tuesday afternoon, saying the streets department “mobilized” at 4 p.m. Tuesday, and that they have more than 35,000 tons of salt available. Workers will start salting streets Tuesday evening, according to the statement. The city also announced that trash and recycling services will be suspended Wednesday, and that government buildings and schools in the Philadelphia school district will be closed.
Additionally, due to “extremely cold conditions” the city said they’re taking special measures to protect people who are homeless, starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday and going until 11 p.m. Thursday. Those measures include 24-hour outreach to find people who are homeless and help them move into indoor spaces, and making emergency housing beds and buildings available to people who are homeless throughout the day Thursday.