Freeze to follow in snowstorm's wake
The snowstorm that closed schools and snarled morning rush-hour traffic in the Philadelphia region Tuesday is heading out to sea with a cold snap to follow, bringing with it temperatures in the teens for the first time since Groundhog Day.
Forecasts had predicted accumulations of 4 to 6 inches, and up to 5 inches was reported by the time the snow wound down around noon, however, areas of South Jersey that were pummeled on Sunday were reporting far lesser amounts.
Once the storm moves out to sea, the region is in for two days of clear skies with high temperatures in the 20s, the National Weather Service said. The low tonight will be about 19 degrees.
While snow has been cleared from most major highways, roadway freezing remains a threat because of the falling temperatures.
The storm arrived at the start of the morning rush hour with burst of heavy but gave way to generally light snow by midmorning. The highest total reported was 5 inches in Perkasie, Bucks County, which received 1.8 inches on Sunday.
The official Philadelphia International Airport measuring station reported 2,2 inches, compared to 8.6 on Sunday.
Amounts of close to 5 inches were reported in parts of Chester and Montgomery Counties in areas that received lesser amounts on Sunday.
Chester County announced that its government offices and courts would close at 2 p.m.
Most schools, including Philadelphia's public and Archdiocesan schools, announced their closures one by one even before the latest storm's first flake fell.
While that succeeded in reducing the number of vehicles on roadways during the morning rush hour, traffic was slowed by poor visibility and quickly accumulating snow sticking to road surfaces.
The storm had barely arrived on the western edges of Chester County hen motor vehicle accident reports started coming in along the storm's eastward path.
In Ocean County, a New Jersey State Police SUV reportedly rolled over on I-195, but the driver got out of the vehicles on his own.
There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.
A section of Route 202 was closed for about 50 minutes after several cars got stuck while driving up a hill near the intersection with Route 926 in West Chester, officials said.
One motorist reported that a five-mile trip within Upper Merion Township took 1 hour, 15 minutes as he made several detours around stalled traffic.
A van from the Delaware County jail was involved in an accident in Concord Township at 10:15 a.m. because of slippery road conditions.
The van, which was not carrying any prisoners at the time, was attempting to stop on Schoolhouse Road when it slid into Baltimore Pike and was struck by a car. State police reported there were three workers from the jail on board. Two were taken to Riddle Memorial Hospital with minor injuries, according to police
SEPTA's operations ran smoothly for a time after the storm arrived, but some problems cropped up, prompting changes in some bus routes and delaying trains on the Paoli/Thorndale Regional Rail line.
Here are the latest updates:
Paoli/Thorndale Regional Rail Line has resumed normal service.
Service on 35 bus remains suspended. All other routes that were affected have resumed normal service.
Dozens of flights out of Philadelphia International Airport were canceled, before and after the storm's arrival, and many more were delayed. The airport said passengers should check on their flight status with their airlines or at www.phl.org.
Some flights to Philadelphia at one point were experiencing average delays of 4 hours, 27 minutes under a traffic management program, but the FAA said those delays are now 1 hour and 3 minutes. Most the affected flights are from New York City's three area airports. General arrival delays are about 15 minutes.
The airport said it deployed 450 workers to clear snow from runways and planes.
With a deep freeze coming in the wake of the storm, county governments have extended - or are expected to extend - Code Blues aimed at insuring homeless people have shelter until Friday morning.
The wintry backdrop aside, the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania said it responded to four house fires in Philadelphia and is assisting five families.
After being caught off guard by the strength of Sunday's snowstorm, transportation officials hustled to stay ahead of round 2.
Road crews were out all night treating roadways in some parts of the area and morning shift workers arrived to preposition plows and salt trucks to clear any sticking snow.
Still, officials urged motorists to reduce their speeds and to drive with caution.
In New Jersey, more than 600 trucks are spreading salt and 1,300 more are plowing on highways statewide, said Joe Dee, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Work crews started salting the roads before rush hour, he said.
"This has been a statewide mobilization because there's been snow in the north, central, and south," Dee said.
NJ Transit said it was offering customers additional travel options because of the weather. It is cross-honoring tickets systemwide throughout the day, meaning customers with a bus ticket can take the train instead at no additional charge, or vice versa.
Philadelphia's city government offices and courts opened.
Valley Forge National Park closed for the day as did the federal courts in New Jersey.
At West Chester University exams scheduled for today have been postponed and the deadline for spring tuition bills was extended until Wednesday.
Villanova University is closed; the Law School will close after the last exam is completed. The Convocation for the nursing students has been canceled and will be rescheduled.
Temple University is open with final exams underway.
Burlington County College said it would close at noon.
The heaviest snow is expected to fall in a band with the Delaware River at its center.
The forecast for Tuesday night calls for clear skies with a low around 19. On Wednesday, it will be sunny with a high around 29, according to the National Weather Service.
There is no hint of snow in the forecast until Saturday when rain and snow are likely.
Staff writers Mari A. Schaefer, Anthony R. Wood, Tricia Nadolny, Andrew Seidman and Joseph A. Gambardello contributed to this article.