It had been four days since the snow and ice stopped falling. And Monday is the first day of spring, for crying out loud.
Yet, on Saturday, an armada of snow loaders lined the vicinity of 16th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway to remove large chunks of ice off curb lines and toss them into dump trucks.
They were among about 30 trucks fanned throughout the city to salt and move ice piles from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., from Center City to North Philadelphia to South Philadelphia, as crews continue to try to dislodge a snow-and-ice cover fastened to some city streets.
About six inches of snow and sleet fell during the storm -- weighing about as much as 18 inches of snow -- then flash-froze into a dense solid mass.
The city underwent a massive plowing operation after the Monday-night-into-Tuesday storm, creating mini-mountains of hardened snow.
“Icy conditions have been the biggest problem since Tuesday,” City Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams said Saturday. “We’ve been able to salt streets that received the most complaints through 311 calls. These are residential streets that are smaller and had people trying to dig out. Snow turned to sleet, and then we had temperatures that froze the sleet to make it difficult to plow."
Basically, the city taketh and the city giveth.
“When we plowed, it pushed the snow into areas making it difficult for cars to go in and out and pedestrians to cross the street,” Williams said. “We’ve been removing those piles."
Williams said that while last week was spent mostly trying to clear the city streets of snow, the job now is “mainly a salting operation.”
“The increasing temperatures are improving conditions,” he said. “We just don’t want overnight streets to freeze over or ice over and create really unsafe conditions for commuters in vehicles and pedestrians trying to cross streets.
“As of [Saturday] we've used about 10,000 tons of salt all over, divided into districts throughout the city in all residential neighborhoods,” Williams said.
As a precaution, 30 more trucks came on for the 5-to-2.am shift since the forecast called for another one to two inches of coating that could turn to ice overnight.