Phila. schools closed Friday; SEPTA rail, bus service halted
Round Two of the nor'easter that dumped up to 16 inches of snow on the Philadelphia region made its presence known tonight with thunder, lightning, and heavy rain. Forecasters were calling for several more inches of snow before the system finally clears out early tomorrow.
All Philadelphia public and archdiocesan schools will be closed tomorrow.
SEPTA halted bus and rail operations at 10 p.m. Bus operations had been suspended earlier today, but some resumed at 3 p.m.
In New Jersey, Gov. Christie ordered that state offices open later than usual, at 10:30 a.m., for nonessential employees. The goal is to allow time for roads and sidewalks to be cleared of snow.
Philadelphia has received about 10 inches of snow so far, and 2 to 6 more could be on the way, Mayor Nutter said at a 5 p.m. news briefing. City offices and courts will remain closed tomorrow.
"It's going to be a wild night," said Mitchell Gaines, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly.
The 9.8 inches measured officially in Philadelphia at 1 p.m. have made this the fifth-snowiest season in 130 years of record-keeping and marked the first time that the city has had four snowfalls of 8 or more inches in one winter. Before this season, it had never recorded more than three storms of 6 inches or more.
Many area residents either had the day off or were heeding official advice to stay home so snow plows can work unimpeded on roadways.
Light snow started around 9 p.m. in the region, fell heavily overnight, and mixed with sleet and rain after daybreak. All morning, precipitation has been switching back and forth.
Precipitation backed off in the afternoon, but as the storm moves north with New England in its sites, significant "back end" snow is possible. Gaines said an area of precipitation spinning across Virginia, where winter thunderstorms have been reported, would arrive between 7 and 8.
A winter storm warning remains in effect until 6 a.m. Friday.
The nor'easter is being blamed for a dozen deaths and widespread power outages throughout the South, but so far this region has been spared widespread outages. The overnight snow wasn't the wet, heavy variety, and winds have been strong enough to blow some of it off the trees, but not strong enough to rip down branches, said Gigi.
Here's the latest of what you need to know.
SEPTA: Regional Rail and bus service were suspended at 10 p.m. Market-Frankford El and Broad Street Line trains will operate all night. (www.septa.org)
PATCO: Is operating on a snow schedule with trains running every 15 minutes until 3 p.m. Trains will be running at slower speeds, but track work on the Ben Franklin Bridge has been suspended so both tracks will be open. (www.ridepatco.org)
NJ Transit: The agency is aiming to operate on a regular weekday schedule, but riders should expect delays. Cross honoring of bus and train passes is in effect. (www.njtransit.com)
Amtrak: Operating on a reduced schedule through Philadelphia. (www.amtrak.com)
Conditions are hazardous.
Plows were out all night, but they could not keep up with the snowfall, leaving roadways covered through the morning rush hour. The addition of sleet made conditions even more slippery. Crews made headway this afternoon, though speed restrictions remain in place.
New Jersey State Police responded to 124 accidents in their patrol areas this morning.
A snow emergency is in effect in Philadelphia, barring parking on designated emergency snow routes. The emergency will continue into tomorrow. A list of the routes can be found at http://www.philadelphiastreets.com/highways/snow/emergency-routes/. If your car was towed, you can call 215-686-SNOW.
Some 426 flights to or from Philadelphia International Airport - 72 percent of the total - have been canceled today, according to Flightaware, a tracking website. PHL is No. 2 to Atlanta's airport in number of cancellations today. Updated flight information can be found at www.phl.org, www.flightaware.com, or your airline's website.
Utilities on both sides of the river report no major widespread outages. Numbers of customers without power are in the hundreds as opposed to thousands.
Trash and recycling collections in Philadelphia have been suspended for today and Friday. Mayor Nutter says those with trash collection on Thursday and Friday should hold their trash and recycling until the same days next week. Trash collection will resume on Monday, despite its being a holiday.
All Philadelphia city offices are closed except for essential employees.
Nonessential Pennsylvania state government employees do not have to report to work in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Reading.
Gov. Christie has declared a state of emergency in New Jersey, and nonessential government employees do not have to report to work. State courts are also closed.
Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Bucks County government offices and courts are closed.
Delaware County declared a weather-related state of emergency allowing it to waive procurement procedures and help municipalities if needed.
Burlington County government offices are closed except for essential employees.
Philadelphia courts are closed.
Inmate visits have been canceled at Philadelphia city prisons.
Most, if not all, closed, including Philadelphia public and parochial schools.
Staff writers Joseph A. Gambardello, Angelo Fichera, Allison Steele, Vernon Clark, Anthony R. Wood, Mari A. Schaefer, Tricia Nadolny and Robert Moran contributed to this article.