Pa. officials trigger emergency storm prep

The statie of Major General John Fulton Reynolds and his horse is dusted by snow in front of City Hall as the storm develops. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The statie of Major General John Fulton Reynolds and his horse is dusted by snow in front of City Hall as the storm develops. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A blast of winter weather is hitting Pennsylvania and the region hard. The difficult weather is expected to be a multi-day affair.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued a disaster emergency proclamation on Monday to help state and local governments deal with the storm. The eastern half of Pennsylvania is expected to bear the brunt of the storm.

The governor’s move allows state agencies to devote all of their available resources and people, and temporarily alters normal procedures for bidding and contracts. The governor also asked motorists to stay off the roads if possible.

Snow from the nor’easter was expected to become heavy Monday afternoon in Philadelphia and central New Jersey. About a foot of snow is expected before the storm ends.

Philly prepares to dig outIn Philadelphia, schools closed mid-day and Mayor Michael Nutter announced plans to declare a snow emergency at 6 p.m. The move triggers the city’s emergency management protocols including closing schools early, aggressively plowing streets, and clearing emergency routes.

snow emergencyMayor Michael Nutter declares a snow emergency in Philadelphia beginning at 6 p.m. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Mayor Nutter says any cars parked on snow emergency routes will be ticketed and towed starting at 6 Monday night.

“There will be heavy, continuous, strict, and severe enforcement on our snow emergency routes. This is serious business. Your car parked on a snow emergency route while our public employees are out there fighting this storm, is disrespectful to their work.”

Nutter also announced that the City of Philadelphia dismissed all non-essential snow-fighting employees at 2 p.m. Monday. Philadelphia officials also canceled Tuesday trash and recycling collections and postponed them until next week.

The Philadelphia Streets Department has nearly 400 pieces of equipment and 800 people working out on the streets. The Philadelphia Parking Authority is offering discounted parking in Center City garages during the snow emergency to reduce on-street parking.

To avoid getting a ticket, Philadelphia property owners are legally required to clear a sidewalk path that is at least 3 feet wide.

SEPTA’s Subway and El are expected to continue to operate on a normal schedule throughout the evening but city officials warn that bus routes may be delayed, detoured or suspended.  

Residents are encouraged to contact the Project Home Outreach Hotline (215-232-1984) if they see a homeless person in need of assistance.

First test of new pet lawIn addition to moving their vehicles, Nutter also warned Philadelphians to move their pets.

He explained that this is the first winter since the city passed a law protecting animals during extreme weather conditions.

“There is a new ordinance in the city of Philadelphia that requires dog owners to bring their pets indoors in the event of extreme cold.”

Nutter warned that leaving a dog outside during the snow emergency could result in a $500 fine.

No-fly zone

Hundreds of flights at Philadelphia Airport have already been delayed or canceled, and the situation is expected to get worse there throughout the evening. Air travel on in the Northeast is expected to be virtually paralyzed at the height of the storm. Travelers should check their flights before heading to the airport.

In New Jersey and Delaware

You can find weather updates on our New Jersey and Delaware pages.

 

Peter Crimmins and Elizabeth Fiedler contributed reporting.

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