Snow blanketed the region, tucking in along the coastline in New Jersey and Delaware and blowing inland on strong winds. By midday Saturday, the National Weather Service was reporting that the nor’easter had slammed the Jersey Shore hardest, with more than a foot of snow reported in Avalon, Sea Isle City, and Atlantic City, among other communities. A foot or close to it was reported in Lewes and around Rehoboth Beach in Sussex County, Delaware.
NWS issued a tweet officially confirming a blizzard at the shore.
We have confirmed that at least coastal portions of the area experienced a blizzard last night and this morning. Analysis for inland areas and to determine more exact timing and duration information will take more time to conduct. #NJwx #DEwx pic.twitter.com/CiQjEHoQqV— NWS Mount Holly (@NWS_MountHolly) January 29, 2022
The governors of New Jersey and Delaware had issued state-of-emergency orders Friday, restricting travel on highways. PennDOT lifted 45-mph speed restrictions about 4 p.m. Saturday, though vehicle restrictions remained in effect. Through much of Saturday, high winds were reducing visibility and making snow removal more difficult for road crews. Driving conditions were reported to be hazardous in many places, especially early in the day.
❄️⚠️ Inclement Weather Conditions: High winds and continuous snow fall make it difficult for roads to be clear of snow, even with the hard work of our plow crews. Level 2 driving restriction (https://t.co/X3Z8XdvGg7) is still in effect in Kent and Sussex County. pic.twitter.com/NSxlLbncVk— DelDOT (@DelawareDOT) January 29, 2022
In Philadelphia and its suburbs on both sides of the Delaware River, approximate accumulations ranged from 4 to 8 inches, with the heavier snow in counties like Gloucester farther to the south.
Here's an approximate look at how much snow has fallen, w/ many thanks to the hundreds of reports we've received! The map is limited by the density of reports and will be refined further, but it provides a good overview. Thanks again for all those reports! #NJwx #PAwx #DEwx #MDwx pic.twitter.com/pJKE4zZNWd— NWS Mount Holly (@NWS_MountHolly) January 29, 2022
Philadelphia International Airport canceled outgoing flights until 1 p.m. Saturday. About 6 inches of snow were reported there.
Along the East Coast, airlines canceled more than 4,500 flights at some of the nation’s busiest airports, according to FlightAware.
Amtrak suspended or limited service on the Boston-to-Washington corridor.
SEPTA reported routes were still in service, but with varied delays depending on location.
On Saturday afternoon, Philadelphia announced in a news release that the city’s snow emergency would be lifted after 5 p.m., allowing vehicles to park on snow emergency routes again.
Owners of vehicles that were towed during the emergency should call 215-686-SNOW (215-686-7669) to find them. Do not call 911, the release said.
“Motorists should allow extra time, exercise patience, and maintain safe driving distances,” cautioned Vanessa Garrett Harley, the city’s acting managing director. “Black ice on the roadway remains an issue for vehicular traffic, and the region is still under a wind advisory, with the possibility of downed trees and power lines.”
The city’s Streets Department would continue its cleanup throughout the day and monitor the situation overnight into Sunday, the release said, noting that the effort was being hampered by high winds blowing snow back into the streets
In West Philadelphia, B Wiscount, who has lived in this part of the city for 24 years, was outside shoveling early Saturday morning, hoping “to get ahead of the wind,” and to catch the snow while it was still light and fluffy.
Wiscount was planning to bring her son, Zachary, 10, to Clark Park, two blocks away from their home, for some sledding.
“Might as well enjoy it … It is the place to go,” Wiscount said.
Around the corner on Baltimore Avenue, Michael Greene was making a few extra bucks by shoveling and salting sidewalks for local businesses. He struck a deal because he lives so close to the shops in West Philadelphia.
“Most of the people that own the businesses live somewhere far,” said Greene, “So by the time they get here, they don’t want to deal with the snow when they can get a person like me to have it already done.”
One of his clients was Davis Pharmacy, a small, independently owned store on Baltimore Avenue that Greene said serves a lot of elderly people.
“They need their medicine no matter what the weather is,” said Greene.
He had started out about 6 a.m. Saturday. This was his second round, and he had a third trip scheduled for noon.
Meanwhile, families were, indeed, flocking to Clark Park, a neighborhood hub for sledding, on one of the few occasions this winter that there has been enough snow to catch some speed on the hill.
The joy was effervescent.
“The kids were just really excited for the snow to be here, and to actually have enough snow to sled and play in,” said Dianne Garcia, of West Philadelphia. Her two children, Demetrio and Eleanor, were sledding together and looking for their school friends to play with.
Adriano Shaplin of West Philly and his son Vernon, 6, forgot to buy a sled this year. So they got creative.
“This is our sled, which is a pillow and a trash bag,” said Shaplin. “It’s an ancestral solution passed down through our family for when you don’t have a sled.”
Vernon jumped on his father’s back, and down the hill they flew.
“I think you’ll notice that we get quite a bit of speed, and even our stability is pretty comparable to the other commercial sleds you’ll see here today,” Shaplin said.
At 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue, the usual Saturday farmers market was closed because of the weather.
But it was business as usual for Dwain Livengood, of Livengood Family Farms. He drove 1½ hours from Lancaster to deliver his customers’ pre-ordered goods. He was the only business on the street Saturday morning.
Livengood stood outside his truck full of eggs, chickens, and winter vegetables ready for pick-up.
“We just can’t stay away from Philly,” he said.
In the afternoon, Wei-hsi Chen, from West Philadelphia, was out buying last-minute groceries at Supremo grocery store on Walnut Street to prepare for a Chinese New Year celebration on Sunday.
For his family pot-luck, Chen planned to bake some cookies and buns, and was buying some fruit and general cooking supplies.
“We saw the storm coming, and we planned a bit ahead,” said Chen. “And here is just so that we can get some stuff that we didn’t think about getting beforehand.”
Carmen Bauer, 21, an international student from Austria, was shocked by the snow when she stepped out her door Saturday morning.
“I looked out my window and was like damn, I never saw it here,” she said.
Bauer, who studies film at Community College of Philadelphia, had never seen snow in the United States before. She usually travels back home for the winter holidays.
She was shopping for some comfort food — mac and cheese, cookies, fruit bowls — for the cold weather, “to keep me warm,” said Bauer.
Supremo employee Brandon Johnson, 32, from West Philly, was salting and shoveling outside.
Working at a grocery store during the pandemic, he said, makes him “feel like a superhero.”
“I feel like my job is really important, to make sure everybody in the community eats,” said Johnson. “I take my job really seriously, and I try to keep everybody safe.”
Associated Press and 6abc contributed reporting,
Saturdays just got more interesting.