With winds expected to gust up to 30 m.p.h., the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is on alert for potential tree damage, said Philadelphia regional maintenance director Nick Martino.
While no one expected this one to measure up to the mega-snows of 2009-10 or even this season's post-Christmas storm, it does mark the third measurable snow in five days. That is unusual, particularly since the region's peak snow month is February.
For Philadelphia, this storm would be a more typical six-inch snowfall as opposed to a paralyzer, said Henry Margusity, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pa. "This isn't going to shut down things," he said, "other than school."
Heftier totals were expected to hit New York City and coastal New England, but the storm was forecast to throw back significant snow across much of South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania.
In an unusual development for this winter, computer models had been in general agreement on snow amounts and timing. But meteorologists said they would not be shocked if totals came in a tad higher or lower than expected.
Before the snow started Tuesday, Philadelphia officially had measured 15.9 inches of snow for the season. With 59 days to go until the spring equinox, that's just four shy of the seasonal average. The total for the last two winters stood at 94.6, just a half-inch from the two-season record set in the winters of 1977-78 and 1978-79.
Nature could have picked a worse time for back-to-back budget-busting winters, but municipal officials would have a hard time identifying one.
"There couldn't be a worse time," said Dan Keashen, a spokesman for Cherry Hill Township, one of the region's most populous towns. "Municipalities are facing a crisis throughout New Jersey."
He added that Cherry Hill had spent about $350,000 fighting snow, about 85 percent of its annual average.
He said the good citizens of Cherry Hill expect to be able to use their streets come recession or high snow, the hopes of schoolchildren notwithstanding. "When people wake up in the morning, they want their roads clear," he said.
In any event, salt supplies will not be an issue, thanks to the legacy of 1993-94, when ice storms emptied salt domes throughout the region and created a crisis.
PennDot has used 30,800 tons of salt so far, spokesman Eugene Blaum said, has 68,000 in storage, and can order more. The New Jersey Department of Transportation had 85,000 tons available.
It is unclear how much more salt will be needed. The extended forecast mentions snow showers for the holiday weekend, and a more significant storm could approach at the middle of next week.
In the meantime, the temperature may not get above freezing again until Sunday.
Contact staff writer Anthony R. Wood at 610-313-8210 or email@example.com.
Inquirer staff writer Edward Colimore contributed to this article.