Nor’easter update: Light snow lingers after storm pummels Philly region

A skier gets some air at Clark Park in West Philadelphia.

A skier gets some air at Clark Park in West Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Updated: 2:30 p.m.

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Cleanup is underway after a winter storm pummeled parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware Monday into Tuesday — with more than two feet of snow reported in the Lehigh Valley. Meteorologists say the snow, which kept falling Tuesday morning, will begin to taper off in the afternoon. (Is it any wonder Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, predicting six more weeks of winter?)

Here’s what you need to know.

The latest forecast

Much of southeast Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and northern Delaware will remain under a Winter Storm Warning until 4 p.m. Tuesday, per the National Weather Service.

Brian Haines, science and operations officer with the NWS in Mount Holly, says the Trenton area and the Lehigh Valley saw some of the highest snow levels, and Philadelphia received some impressive snowfall as well.

“Really a key thing for everyone to remember for this event is the duration of the event,” Haines said. “This just wasn’t a quick, couple-hour event. This was a long duration event over a couple days. Quickly into Philadelphia, southern Pennsylvania, you’re now approaching the 6 to 10-inch range.”

Haines advises travelers to avoid using the roads and to stay in their homes unless absolutely necessary.

Joey lunges for a snowball at Norris Square Park
Joey lunges for a snowball at Norris Square Park in Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Parts of the Atlantic coast also saw moderate flooding overnight, Haines said. Coastal Flood Warnings are in effect for Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Burlington counties.

“If you’re near the coast of New Jersey, definitely be really careful,” Haines added. “Don’t go anywhere that you know that floods during moderate flooding here.”

Haines said the worst of the storm is behind us, but a couple more inches are expected Tuesday across the region. The storm is moving northeast, so some southern areas around Philadelphia are expected to see snowfall in the 1-inch range, while Trenton and central Jersey are expected to see closer to 3 inches.

Snow will begin to taper off from west to east starting Tuesday afternoon, according to meteorologist Trent Davis of NWS Mount Holly, with scattered snowfall.

“There’s really a good chance of snow showers and brief periods of light-to-moderate snow throughout most of the rest of the day,” Davis added. “Through the night, we’ll see everything fully wrap up.”

Alerts, emergency orders

With most of the region under a Winter Storm Warning until 4 p.m. Tuesday, travel could be very difficult to impossible due to hazardous conditions.

Gov. Tom Wolf issued a Disaster Emergency for Pennsylvania on Monday. A state of emergency also remains in place in New Jersey.

“We are in the middle of one of the most impactful statewide storms we’ve had in a long time,” PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration Melissa Batula said. “This is truly an all-hands-on-deck situation.”

The snow emergency was lifted in Philadelphia at noon on Tuesday, but a Code Blue remains in effect.

All courts, facilities, and government offices in Montgomery County will be closed Tuesday due to inclement weather. In Delaware County, such buildings will have a delayed opening of 10 a.m.

Snow removal and trash pickup

In Philadelphia, city workers will continue plowing streets through Wednesday, focusing on removing snow from residential blocks.

Starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, some sanitation trucks used for storm cleanup will revert back to collecting trash on Wednesday. Trash was not picked up Monday and Tuesday.

“There may be some delays as we catch up,” said Managing Director Tumar Alexander during a virtual news conference on Tuesday.

Residents play in the snow at Clark Park
Clark park was packed with sledders Tuesday afternoon. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Schools

All School District of Philadelphia buildings are closed Tuesday, though classes will still take place virtually in the morning. Students will be given the afternoon for “independent learning.”

All parochial schools in Philadelphia are on a virtual Flexible Day of Instruction Tuesday. Parochial schools in the suburban collar counties will follow the lead of their local public school districts, the archdiocese said.

Roads, transportation

Tier 1-4 restrictions on several Pennsylvania interstates, which mostly affected commercial vehicles, have been lifted by PennDOT as of Tuesday morning, although speed limit restrictions are still in effect for many major roads.

SEPTA activated its emergency command protocol Sunday evening to handle the storm, said Assistant General Manager for Operations Scott Sauer. Regular service schedules are in effect, although the Cynwyd and Chestnut Hill West Lines remain suspended — riders are encouraged to use caution and plan for possible delays.

New Jersey officials continued to urge drivers to stay off the roads Tuesday.

Gov. Phil Murphy — along with Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti and State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan — implored residents to stay home and stay warm if they don’t have to leave the house.

A man takes an early morning walk with his dog on an unplowed street in Moorestown, N.J.
A man takes an early morning walk with his dog on an unplowed street in Moorestown, N.J., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Gutierrez-Scaccetti said people staying home has been a “tremendous help” in letting crews clear the roads.

“It is what allows you to look out the window and see blacktop this morning,” she added.

Also helpful were commercial restrictions on some of New Jersey’s interstates. The restrictions, which did not apply to the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, or the Atlantic City Expressway, expired at noon Tuesday.

PATCO is running on a snow schedule through Tuesday. NJ Transit is also slowly coming back online.

Murphy said most services in South Jersey are operational again, adding it’s “going to take a little bit more time” to get services back online in Central and North Jersey because of the amount of snow. Buses in Central and North Jersey are suspended until further notice.

The Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, and Raritan Valley rail lines have returned to service on a Level 2 severe weather schedule. The Atlantic City Rail Line has operated on a regular weekday schedule throughout the storm. Other rail lines remain suspended due to weather conditions. The River Line light rail between Trenton and Camden is operating on a Sunday schedule.

Officials advise checking NJ Transit’s website for service updates.

DART Services are operating with minor delays. Bus riders can check DartFirstState.com for any service disruptions or updates, or download the DART Transit app for real-time information.

COVID testing, vaccine operations

Vaccine deliveries, some of which were delayed Monday, have now resumed.

“The federal government, which oversees the distribution, informed vaccine providers yesterday that deliveries were being delayed yesterday due to the snow,” Barry Ciccocioppo, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, said Tuesday. “We are told that deliveries resumed today.”

The Department of Health, Ciccocioppo said, is not involved in the delivery process. The vaccine is shipped directly from manufacturers to vaccine providers.

Two happy sledders skid down the dome at Clark Park in West Philadelphia.
Two happy sledders skid down the dome at Clark Park in West Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

New Jersey’s six vaccine “mega-sites” will remain closed Tuesday due to the winter storm, along with all state offices.

Individual health care providers have been reaching out to people with appointments to reschedule, according to a press release from Gov. Phil Murphy’s office:

  • Atlantic (AtlantiCare) – Rescheduled to Friday
  • Bergen (Hackensack Meridian Health) – Rescheduled during extended hours throughout the week
  • Burlington (Virtua) – Rescheduled during extended hours throughout the week
  • Gloucester (County Health) – Rescheduled to Wednesday
  • Middlesex (RWJBarnabas) – Rescheduled to Friday
  • Morris (Atlantic Health) – Rescheduled to Thursday

The state’s Vaccination Call Center is open for people who want to pre-register and to answer questions, but it is not currently scheduling appointments until after the storm is over. The number for the call center is 855-568-0545.

Camden County College’s vaccine operation is also closed Tuesday. Those with appointments should have received an email to reschedule.

All COVID-19 vaccination appointments scheduled through Chester County Health Department at the Government Services Center and Kennett Square Red Clay Room locations on Tuesday have been canceled. Residents will be notified of their rescheduled appointment date and time. Coronavirus testing appointments at Government Services Center are similarly canceled. Residents should schedule another appointment online through the county’s health department.

Coronavirus testing appointments at Government Services Center are similarly canceled. Residents should schedule another appointment online through the county’s health department.

Kids toss snowballs around a courtyard in Philadelphia.
Kids toss snowballs around a courtyard in Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

In Philadelphia, city-run testing sites are closed Tuesday. The city’s Health Department is working to reschedule appointments. The city recommends those with appointments at non-city run sites call those facilities ahead of time to confirm.

The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium has moved its vaccine clinic from Christian Stronghold Baptist Church to Temple University’s Liacouras Center. The clinic will run from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Montgomery County is rescheduling its Tuesday vaccination clinic at Montgomery County Community College. All clients with registered appointments will be automatically rescheduled for Norristown High School on Thursday, Feb. 4. All Montgomery County COVID-19 testing sites will also be closed.

Delaware County, meanwhile, will carry out COVID-19 testing and vaccinations as planned.

A plow clears Church Street in Moorestown
A plow clears Church Street in Moorestown on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

In Delaware, the storm has adversely affected testing and vaccination events, Division of Public Health spokesman Robin Bryson said.

Testing sites throughout Delaware run by the state’s partner Curative Inc. were canceled Monday and those with appointments received an email to reschedule.

In addition, the state and its vaccination partner Vault canceled an event Tuesday because of continuing inclement weather. But a Curative vaccination event in Dover is still being held, though it is opening late. Those with appointments were notified about the time change and all appointments will be honored, Bryson said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

WHYY’s Robby Brod and Aaron Moselle contributed reporting.

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