A grouchy region bemoans winter and awaits more snow

Tommy Townsend braved the snow- and ice-covered streets of Media last week before the nor'easter hit Delaware County. He said he was bored and just wanted to get out.
Tommy Townsend braved the snow- and ice-covered streets of Media last week before the nor'easter hit Delaware County. He said he was bored and just wanted to get out. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 18, 2014

PHILADELPHIAGrounded flights, closed schools, food-spoiling power outages, detoured buses, and ice-slicked sidewalks are the motifs of this winter, with almost every miserable weather combination hitting the region.

The toll was on full display Sunday on people's windburned cheeks and chapped lips.

And in the sore back muscles from shoveling, and the smashed fenders from harrowing rides on inadequately plowed roads and patches of black ice.

Nora Meighan of University City did not hide her disgust in nearly deserted Clark Park around lunchtime Sunday, the temperature an uncomfortable 29 degrees.

"I hate the snow," said the Delaware County native. "I grew up here. I didn't choose to live in the Northeast."

She wasn't finished: "In Philly, you don't get any of the nice weather. You get steaming hot or freezing cold."

At Bob's Diner in Roxborough, Bill Spearing's mood wasn't much lighter.

"Ask anybody in this city, it's miserable," said the East Falls resident who had stopped for breakfast - on his way to buy rock salt.

Architect Jim Rice was there too, with gripes of his own.

"We're running out of places to put the snow," he said. "The biggest hardship I've noticed is the streets are getting smaller and smaller, and the parking places fewer and fewer."

At the Schuylkill River Park Dog Run, Tom Esbensen of South Philadelphia complained of supplies being hard to come by.

"There is a shortage of salt, and there is a shortage of scrapers for cars," he said. "And by shortage I mean they are not available."

He at least had a head covering: a bright orange-and-black Flyers knit hat.

William Underwood was hunkered down in the Starbucks at 16th and Market Streets, where he was passing time on his computer rather than being on the move, which he prefers.

"When it gets severe . . . I'm stuck inside, and I don't like that because I have arthritis," he said.

The hazardous weather conditions are proving brutal on many bones.

"I see a lot of fractures," said Joe Bobadilla, a third-year surgical resident at the Main Line Health System.

One bright spot Sunday was Philadelphia International Airport, where the sky was clear and sunny - and passengers were no longer stranded. Flight monitors said "on time" for US Airways, United, Southwest, JetBlue, Delta, and Virgin America.

Jimmy and Brittany Doyle of Los Angeles were on their honeymoon in New York last week when their flight home Thursday was canceled.

"We got pushed back all the way to today," he said.

Lounging in the lobby of the Marriott Downtown, Andrew Neary recalled travel headaches of his own. He had been skiing in Utah last week and needed to be in Philadelphia by the weekend for a wedding. That meant cutting his ski trip short.

"I had to change my flight to . . . try to beat the storm and be here Thursday," he said.

Meanwhile, students and staff of the Philadelphia School District face losing a spring vacation. The district announced last week that April 15, 16, and 17, previously reserved for spring break, will be school days to make up for those missed because of snow.

Though the bulk of more than 700,000 power outages in the area from various bouts of snow and ice affected suburbanites more than city residents, the entire region had SEPTA and PATCO service interruptions to deal with.

For many, that meant arriving late to work or staying home.

"I've had to stay home more days this year than I have in the aggregate of my entire professional life," said Esbensen, who works for LEAF Commercial Capital Inc.

And it's not over. The National Weather Service predicts one to two inches of snow for the area beginning about 1 a.m. Tuesday, said meteorologist Dean Iovino. Some parts of South Jersey could get less.

Whatever comes won't be the concern much longer of snow-hater Meighan and friend Matt Klein. They are moving to Mexico.

"I'll come back just to get in a snowstorm," Klein said.


301-503-5429 @ameliabrust

Inquirer staff writers Linda Loyd and Angelo Fichera contributed to this article.

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