Predictions regarding the severity of the latest nor’easter have been downgraded in the Philly area from up to 18 inches, to only a foot of snow, according to an updated report from the National Weather Service (NWS) Wednesday morning. But commuters may still have trouble getting around.
The NWS reported this morning that Philadelphians could see around eight to 12 inches of snow from Wednesday through early Thursday morning. That’s a change from the prediction of 12 to 18 inches, which was announced by the mayor’s office Tuesday afternoon.
That snow will likely pick up Wednesday afternoon, dropping between two and three inches per hour in some parts of the city, according to the NWS.
Between freezing rain, high gusts of wind and snowy drifts, which were already starting to collect on the streets of Philly late Wednesday morning, it’s safe to say the storm will have an effect on your day.
Travel will be rough
The NWS warned against driving in the Philly area Wednesday morning, calling conditions hazardous, and saying that a “wintery mix of rain, sleet, snow and freezing rain,” is expected to hit areas around the I-95 corridor through early Thursday morning.
The PA Turnpike is taking extra precautions due to difficult driving conditions, and announced Wednesday that they reduced speeds to 45 mph on the east-west route from Ohio to NJ, which includes I-76 and 276, and the Northeast Extension of I-476. They also announced yesterday that certain vehicles, like trailers and motorcycles, were banned from those routes through Thursday morning through Wednesday, due to the storm. If you do find yourself broken down on the turnpike, dial *11 for assistance.
For train, bus and trolley commuters, SEPTA has instituted a severe weather plan, meaning all regional rail lines are operating on a Saturday schedule, except for the Wilmington/Newark line, which is serving Churchmans Crossing and Newark stations today, and the Cynwyd Line, which isn’t operating. There are also delays, detours and advisories listed for many of SEPTA’s bus lines due to the weather.
SEPTA tweeted out an update on routes that are suspended due to slick roads Wednesday afternoon. They also noted that West Trenton trains are operating with delays due to a car that was blocking the rails but has since been moved.
Rte 22,35,53,55,93,97,98,127,128,129,130,132,133,139,150,H,XH: Service is suspended until further notice due to slick roadway conditions.— SEPTA (@SEPTA) March 21, 2018
There are mass closings
All city offices and courts are closed Wednesday due to the weather. Also closed: all Philly district schools, and archdiocesan high schools and parochial elementary schools, according to the mayor’s office.
Parking is limited
A snow emergency went into effect around 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, meaning that cars are restricted from parking in select areas, including along Broad and Market streets, so the city can plow the roads. That ban lasts through the day Wednesday.
Flying is difficult
The mayor’s office announced Tuesday evening that over 240 flights have already been cancelled at the Philadelphia airport. The airport itself put out a warning, advising people planning to travel on Wednesday and Tuesday, to check their schedules for delays or cancellations.
Help is on the way
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced Wednesday morning that over 450 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard are ready to help during the storm.
More than 450 @PANationalGuard soldiers are either notified, on standby, or are staging for possible missions, and @PennDOTNews has placed travel restrictions on routes & interstates across PA. Check https://t.co/nKsUmmAsY7 before heading out for travel updates. #WinterStormToby— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) March 21, 2018
The mayor’s office also announced that over 400 pieces of equipment are being deployed to help plow and salt the roads. In addition, a crew of arborists from Philadelphia Parks and Recreation are on call to respond to non-emergencies regarding trees on wires and will come out to remove a hazardous tree. They can be reached by calling 311. For emergencies, the Office of Emergency Management suggests calling PECO at 1-800-841-4141.