The powerful nor’easter that blew through the Philadelphia region and the Shore might be gone, but the impact of its damaging winds, drenching rain and surprise snowfalls is still being felt as tens of thousands of homes remain without power – most in the older suburbs with mature trees and above-ground power lines.
Along the Jersey Coast, periods of flooding are expected to persist through a few more high tides, but overall the storm’s impact there has been relatively minimal.
Wind advisories for Philadelphia and the Shore were lifted by noon Saturday.
“It will be breezy most of the day but it will not be nearly as windy as yesterday and it will also be dry,” said Chad Shafer, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.
That was little consolation for residents and businesses with no use of appliances – or ways to charge cell phones and computers – throughout Philadelphia’s suburbs. Even getting around was tough with traffic lights out at intersections.
About 189,000 Peco customers were still without power early Saturday evening, with more than 66,000 customers feeling the brunt of the impact in Montgomery County alone. Delaware County was also heavily hit by the storm, with more than 65,000 Peco customers still without power Saturday evening.
Peco officials could not say with certainty when power to all would be restored.
“With the damage being so widespread across the 5+ counties and the wind gusts remaining, we’re currently focused on assessing the overall damage and reaching vital outages like hospitals, etc.,” spokesperson Afia Ohene-Frempong said. “There are a good number of pretty massive trees down across the region, along with smaller trees, branches, debris and more. Our focus will continue to be safety of our crew members and our customers while we move as quickly as possible to restore the remaining 240,000 customers left without power.”
John McBlain, Delaware County Council chairman, issued a declaration of disaster emergency for the area after the snow and wind downed trees and caused “extensive damage to roads, bridges, homes and businesses.”
Snow totals ranged from no accumulation at the Shore to up to 9 inches in parts of Montgomery County, according to the NWS.
Good evening, Here is a prelim draft image of the March 2 wet snowfall amts. Most of the accums between 7AM and 7PM. Add on any more final snow and wind reps, safely. Thank you. #njwx #dewx #pawx #mdwx pic.twitter.com/9oKcdPn4Ro
— NWS Mount Holly (@NWS_MountHolly) March 3, 2018
But wind was the main foe, overpowering electrical lines and trees.
A 57-year-old man died Friday after a tree crashed onto a car in Montgomery County, according to Upper Merion Township police. The storm claimed at least six other lives on the East Coast, according to the Washington Post.
SEPTA’s Regional Rail lines are still facing delays. An apologetic general manager Jeff Knueppel Saturday called it “very upsetting” that many customers were stranded on their way home from work Friday. He said the storm had intensified faster than expected.
Service on the following lines are still suspended as of Saturday night:
- West Trenton
- Airport (shuttle bus service will operate from the AT&T Station on the Broad Street Line to the Airport
- Chestnut Hill East
- Chestnut Hill West
A shuttle bus for SEPTA’s Routes 101 and 102 trolleys are in operation.
Having suspended service between Washington and New York Friday, Amtrak began modified service in the corridor around 11 a.m. Saturday, though warning that customers should continue to expect delays.
A car weaves around a fallen tree on Hollow Road in Gladwyne in Montgomery Co. on Saturday after a Nor’easter hit the Philadelphia region leaving thousands without power. pic.twitter.com/i61GEZOV32
— Mari Schaefer (@MariSchaefer) March 3, 2018
— Suzanne Monaghan (@Sue_Monaghan) March 3, 2018
Winds have died down dramatically at the Shore, but forecasters warn the biggest flood threat lies with the next several high tides into Sunday. The threats are listed as moderate, meaning many roadways that already flood during high tides will be a bit worse with the surge.
The ocean and bay both churned with ferocity overnight, resulting in significant beach erosion. That’s expected to worsen through Sunday.
The worse threats are forecast for high tide along the ocean front between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Saturday as the winds shift, and again around 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. In the back bays, high tide will be a bit later. Winds were blowing from west to east, meaning the ocean was less of a threat, but the back bays were more vulnerable.
Storm surges of about 2 to 2½ feet are expected into Sunday. The good news for surfers: Waves from 8 to 14 feet.
Officials are warning that the surges could cause some property damage and ask motorists not to drive through flooded roads. Not only is the possibility of getting stuck real, but the saltwater is corrosive and could mean costly repairs.
In addition, utility crews from Atlantic City Electric were still working to restore damaged power lines. Gusts along the coast were still reaching 30 mph.
Dawn Johnson and her daughter Maria, and Charlanne Nosal and her daughter Abby, huddled on the beach in Avalon early Saturday, trying to not to get knocked over by 35 mph hour gusts made more biting by temperatures in the low 30s.
The group came down from High Point, N.J. and was staying at the Golden Inn for the Mid Atlantic Cheer Championship. The storm hindered their time in Avalon, but not their spirit.
“We went out a couple of times,” said Dawn Johnson. “But everything was closed.”
Johnson said her family back home had lost power under more than a foot of snow.
Charlanne Nosal added with a smile as a biting wind whipped sand around her: “Any day at the beach is a good day.”
But the scene worsened with the morning’s high tide. Multiple intersections were underwater in Sea Isle. There, trucks driven by construction workers continued to plow through.
In Ocean City, water swamped roads toward the bay, forcing their closure. The intersection at 30th Street and West Avenue was completely submerged and water surrounded homes.
Dave Cates, owner of Piccini restaurant nearby, said the community, however, dodged a bullet. He said the flooding could have been much worse.
“We will be open all day,” he said, even though the road next to the restaurant was closed.