Region gets walloped again; more snow is on the way

Students greet a snowman at Villanova University. Forecasters say more could join him, with up to two inches Tuesday.
Students greet a snowman at Villanova University. Forecasters say more could join him, with up to two inches Tuesday. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 05, 2014

The seventh snowstorm of the season rolled across the region Monday, dropping up to nine inches of thick, leaden flakes that paralyzed roadways and caused power outages at thousands of homes, while forecasters predicted yet more snow for Tuesday night.

The system that blanketed Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey until late afternoon forced closure of numerous public schools, and pushed the seasonal snowfall tally beyond 40 inches Monday, a wearying milestone after the third-snowiest January in more than 140 years, according to the National Weather Service.

Though not a record-breaker, the storm was markedly more treacherous than previous ones this year, dropping hefty, sticky snow that disabled power lines and turned untreated streets into a thick, icy quicksand.

Thousands of motorists stalled in traffic jams during morning rush hour, confronting dicey highway ramps or untreated side streets, and 60,000 homes in Southeastern Pennsylvania lost power at some point Monday, a Peco spokesman said. About 10,000 homes, mostly in Montgomery County, were still in the dark Monday night.

"We're all starting to feel like the Bill Murray character in Groundhog Day," said Philadelphia Streets Commissioner David Perri.

Another storm was set to roll through Tuesday night, forecast to drop at least two inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service in Mount Holly. It is expected to be followed by a short warm-up Wednesday that would revert to freezing temperatures within hours.

And the hits just keep on coming: More snow and rain are in the forecast for this weekend.

In New Jersey, Gov. Christie declared a state of emergency and authorized a staggered dismissal for all nonessential state employees beginning at noon. Snowfall in South Jersey was generally lower than across Southeastern Pennsylvania.

From the Rutgers-Camden campus to Rowan in Glassboro, universities throughout South Jersey closed. School districts did the same, some waiting until Monday morning to make a final call

Collingswood Superintendent Scott Oswald said the district allotted one day each school year for a weather-related closure. This week's storm brought about the forth school-day cancellation.

"We typically have a day or two," Oswald said. "This has been kind of crazy this year."

To meet the 180-day school year required by state law, Oswald said, the district will cut into spring break, replace a teachers' professional-development day with classes, and extend the year by one day in June.

In Camden County, more than 70 vehicles and 80 employees worked to clear 400 miles of county roads. County Freeholder Ian K. Leonard said officials were preparing for the possibility of roads' icing over through the night.

Leonard said the weather "certainly takes a toll" on the county's equipment and staff.

"February's got a long way to go," he said.

About 400 departing and arriving flights were canceled at Philadelphia International Airport, according to Flightaware, a flight-tracking service.

Though the storm felt like another relentless blow in an unusually harsh winter, it was not for the history books - nor is the winter as a whole. Not yet, at least.

In December, two storms dropped 11.2 inches across the region. In January, four storms deposited 25.9 inches. Yet entering February, this winter was only the 16th snowiest on record, according to the National Weather Service.

What has made it feel worse, surmised meteorologist Sarah Johnson, is how it compares with the last two winters, when snow was scarce. Only four inches fell in 2011-12 and 8.3 inches in 2012-13, she said.

"After the last two winters, when we had single-digit snowfall totals, it seems really bad," Johnson said.

Monday's storm system deposited a region-high 9.0 inches of snow in Exton and Ambler, 6.1 inches in Media, 7.5 inches in Lower Makefield, 4.0 inches in Pennsauken, and 6.2 inches in Florence, the weather service said.



Contributing to this article were Inquirer staff writers Carolyn Davis, Ben Finley, Joseph A. Gambardello, Robert Moran, and Paul Nussbaum.

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