The dig out is underway as two low pressure systems combined to drop up to 9 inches of snow on the Philadelphia region overnight, forcing closure of city schools and many other districts in the area.
The snow, which began falling about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, was trailing off by 5 this morning with flurries. As it moved out, bitter cold - and high winds - moved in, meaning whatever fell will linger and freeze into place through at least tomorrow.
Philadelphia International Airport officially recorded 9 inches. But snow totals varied. King of Prussia saw about 7.5 inches. National Park, Gloucester County, N.J., recorded 9 inches. Parts of Monmouth County, along the Jersey coast, saw more than 10 inches.
The Philadelphia Public and Archdiocesan school systems closed as were school systems in South Jersey, such as Camden and Cherry Hill. Many local governments, such as court systems and municipal buildings were either closed or delaying openings.
Plows were out early this morning, clearing major roads, though many local and back roads remained unplowed, making travel difficult. Motorists were allowing at least 30 minutes to clear and dig out cars.
Septa regional rail was running normally. Bus service was impacted severely early on, but most routes were back to normal by 10:15 a.m. Service updates can be found at www.septa.org. Meanwhile, PATCO trains ran a normal schedule with no real delays.
PennDot placed speed restrictions on numerous roads but lifted those by about 9:15 a.m. A crash on I-95 southbound between South Exit 17, Broad St. in Philadelphia, and Exit 15, Enterprise Ave., that left all lanes closed was cleared by 8:05 a.m.
In a preemptive move, Gov. Christie last night declared a state of emergency, with points north of Trenton expecting more snow than South Jersey. And, indeed they got it, with parts of Monmouth County reporting more than 10 inches.
Several area shopping centers announce they had delayed openings. The Moorestown and Cherry Hill malls in South Jersey delayed opening until 11 a.m. In suburban Pennsylvania, Willow Grove Park, Springfield Mall, and Plymouth Meeting Mall all were set to open at noon.
The most troubling issues came with fires that burned throughout the night in the city. The American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania said it responded to three blazes during the storm, leaving about 13 people displaced. Some appeared to have been injured.
The fires were on the 900 Block of W. Somerset St., 7000 block of Saybrook Ave., and the 400 block of Kerper St.
As the snow moved out, an arctic blast moved in, dropping wind chills to -10 and -15 in the Poconos and Northwest New Jersey, according to the National Weather Service. The high was at midnight, with temperatures falling since.
The temperatures are expected to drop or hold steady in the teens or single digits. Wind gusts of 35 to 45 mph are possible.