Ice storm slams region

Posted: February 07, 2014

JUST AS PHILADELPHIA was recovering from Monday's winter storm, the region was slammed with a devastating icy mix overnight Tuesday into yesterday.

The storm caused power outages affecting more than 623,000 PECO Energy customers in southeastern Pennsylvania, the utility's second-biggest failure on record. More than 1,000 PECO utility-crew members were put to work trying to restore power. It could be days before all power is restored, officials said.

Shortly after 9 p.m., Gov. Corbett declared a state of emergency in Pennsylvania to help authorities deal with the weather.

PennDOT reduced the speed limit to 45 mph on six interstate highways in the region.

And apparently the storm still isn't through with us. Forecasters said more is coming this weekend.

Higher education became a lower priority in some places, including Temple University's Ambler campus and West Chester University's Center City campus, both of which shut down.

"It's such a small community," said Steve Dubenko, a criminology major at West Chester who was waiting with his girlfriend at SEPTA's Market East station. "They lost power, so everything was canceled today. I don't mind. I love it."

Other commuters didn't have the luxury of waiting for a train. Delays and power outages throughout the city inconvenienced thousands.

Trains to Philadelphia International Airport were canceled or delayed.

"I'm going to Florida for four days," said Bianca Mauro, a Bucks County nanny waiting for a train at Market East. The Brazil native said she was happy to be leaving Philadelphia's freezing rain.

But she may not have left on schedule. U.S. airlines canceled more than 2,800 flights yesterday because of snow and freezing rain in the Northeast and the Midwest, the Associated Press reported. That followed 1,600 cancellations Tuesday and 2,100 Monday.

Inside Center City's Gallery shopping mall, Mohammad Ayub, of Upper Darby, owner of the Intrigue Jewelers kiosk, said he was delayed by 35 minutes in getting to work because of ice on subway tracks.

"It's usually a 10-minute walk from my house to the station, but it was 20 minutes today," said Ayub. "The roads were too icy and there were big tree branches blocking the pathways."

Power outages were widespread.

"We had no power around 4 a.m. [yesterday]," said Nancy Donaldson, of the White Horse Village retirement center near Kennett Square. "The trees fell on the lines and broke them. We didn't have phone lines for a while until recently."

She planned to stay at her daughter's home on 21st Street in Philadelphia. "Most importantly, they have heat," Donaldson said. "It's too cold here now."

The Red Cross set up "warming centers" in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties to provide food, drinks and essential toiletries.

Service on four SEPTA Regional Rail lines - Cynwyd, Paoli/Thorndale, Warminster and West Trenton - was suspended yesterday morning because of icy tracks and downed trees. The Warminster line was up and running in time for the afternoon rush hour. The other lines were expected to be in service for this morning's commute.

Amtrak suspended service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg because more than 40 trees were on the tracks.

Flooding was anticipated in many areas today because of melting snow.

One man waiting for a train at Market East was able to put everything into perspective.

"This weather is nothing compared to what we had in Quebec City," said Martin Busque, waiting for the train to the Philly airport, which had been delayed by 20 minutes. "We had [10 inches] of snow in the past week."

Saturday's forecast for Philly? Overcast, with a 50 percent chance of snow. Possible accumulation: 2 inches.

- The Associated Press

contributed to this report

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