Snow halts in Philly region, but more forecast Tuesday night
Another snowstorm struck the Philadelphia region this morning, forcing schools and government offices to close and thwarting motorists as the snow fell from the morning rush hour through early afternoon.
But if this winter has proven anything, it's that complacency is not an option.
More snow is on the way tomorrow night into Wednesday morning, though in a reverse course of this morning's storm. What will begin as snow late Tuesday will turn into a wintry mix and eventually rain Wednesday morning as warmer temperatures enter the region, according to Accuweather.
"While the storm Sunday night began as rain and changed to snow, the midweek storm will start off as snow, then is forecast to change to rain along the coast," Accuweather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said of Philadelphia and the region. "While less snow will fall in the city with the next storm, enough snow and wintry mix will fall at the onset of the storm to make some roads and sidewalks slippery. The morning commute Wednesday may be slow."
This morning, rain started changing to snow west of Interstate 95 early. Snow then began to predominate about 7 a.m. even as temperatures remained well above freezing, and the precipitation in Center City turned from rain to huge snow flakes by 7:45 a.m. It eventually began tailing off at about 3:30 p.m.
By 3:45 p.m., the snow fall ceased in Center City. But as the region might already expect from this storm-packed winter: More snow is forecast. The National Weather Service is predicting another storm to arrive tomorrow night and last a few hours into Wednesday morning.
Snow will change over into a wintry mix and then rain Wedneday morning and early afternoon. Accumulation is expected to be little in Philadelphia before the change to rain, according to the National Weather Service.
Most of the region was expected to see four to eight inches of snow, with the snow expected. By early afternoon, multiple places in the suburbs had recorded seven or eight inches. For a full story on today's forecast, check out John Bolaris' detailed rundown here.
Philadelphia has already had six days with snowfalls of two or more inches this winter.
In New Jersey, a state of emergency was declared by early in the afternoon.
PennDOT said speed limits were reduced to 45 mph on Interstates 76, 95, 476 and 676, as well as U.S. Routes 1, 30, 202 and 422 and state Routes 63, the 100 spur and 309. Officials restored the speed limits to normal by 4 p.m., in time for the evening rush hour.
The speed limit on the New Jersey Turnpike was lowered to 35 mph.
Police responded to a number of crashes this morning, as drivers faced slick, slushy road. Two crashes forced lane closures on Interstate 95 southbound near Highland Avenue in Philadelphia and I-476 northbound in West Chester. Several accidents also caused delays this morning on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Transportation officials were urging people to avoid parking too close to street corners, to give plows and salt trucks room to manuever.
SEPTA said rail lines are running smoothly, but the road conditions were affecting buses. Service has been halted on bus routes 18, 26, 33, 35, 94, 120, L, H and XH. Dozens of other routes are facing detours or delays.
"There's a lot of vehicles that are losing traction and having issues on the roads," Jeffrey Knueppel, a SEPTA deputy general manager, said at a news conference.
During a record-setting January snowstorm, scores of workers left their offices by early- or mid-afternoon, leading to an early rush hour that flooded transit systems and slammed roadways. Knueppel urged commuters to wait until their normal departure times today, giving crews more time to treat the roads.
Meteorologist John Bolaris also advises Philly.com readers who traveled into the office today to wait until the afternoon rush hour to make their way home.
"Let the roads clear first," he said. "The worst of the snow will be over by 1 or 2 p.m."
N.J. Transit said it would cross-honor tickets and passes on its bus, rail and light rail systems today due to the weather.
Nearly 400 arriving or departing flights have been canceled at Philadelphia International Airport, according to data from the flight-tracking site FlightAware.com.
The airport said at about 10 a.m. that the Federal Aviation Administration had issued a ground delay for the airport, causing delays for arriving flights to average more than four hours.
The winter has already been brutal for motorists in Philadelphia and much of the East Coast. AAA said today that the agency responded to 222,000 calls for roadside assistance in the Mid-Atlantic -- Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and D.C. -- in January, the highest monthly total ever by 16,000 calls.
Last month, AAA responded to more than 53,000 calls from drivers in Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania suburbs, and about 59,000 calls from New Jersey motorists.
Many school districts -- including Philadelphia, Camden and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Camden -- are closed today.
Hundreds of other districts also announced closures and cancellation of afternoon activities and programs. In Philadelphia, administrative offices remained open.
All Rutgers University campuses are closed today. The University of the Sciences is also closed.
A power outage caused Rowan University to cancel classes in Camden. It was unclear what caused the outage.
Camden County College and Gloucester County College both said they were closing at noon.
Pennsylvania Commonwealth Courts were operating on a two hour delay, but all Philadelphia courts were scheduled to operate normally.
All government offices in Chester and Montgomery counties are closed today.
A number of townships and boroughs are also closed today. Some have declared snow emergencies, instructing residents to avoid parking on snow emergency routes.
Philadelphia city offices are open.
New Jersey courts and courthouses were closing at noon, with a few counties remaining open until 1:30 p.m.