FIRST STORM OF YEAR
The city is braced for more winter woe after a massive storm roared into the region Thursday, bringing snow, frigid temperatures and extreme winds.
Temperatures will plummet into single-digit territory in Philadelphia on Friday. The forecast is for 7 degrees. Brutal winds will make the air feel like minus-15 degrees, according to the Channel 10 NBC weather forecast.
The city of Philadelphia, citing extreme temperatures and the threat of hazardous travel conditions, said municipal government offices will be closed Friday. All School District of Philadelphia schools will be closed Friday.
“We believe that the frigid temperatures will result in icy roadways in the morning that will be resistant to our salting efforts,” city Managing Director Mike DiBerardinis said. “We need to keep drivers off the roads. ... Non-essential city employees should stay home and stay warm.”
SEPTA will operate on the Severe Storm Schedule on Friday, with Regional Rail running on a Saturday schedule. Buses will replace the Cynwyd Line trains. There will be an enhanced Wilmington/Newark Line schedule with service to Newark and Churchmans Crossing Station in Delaware.
The frigid air will last for more than 60 hours and the area could set a record low temperature of zero degrees or below on either Saturday or Sunday, Channel 10 NBC reported. Wind chills could again dip to minus-20 degrees.
The last time the official temperature in Philadelphia was zero degrees or below was on Jan. 9, 1994, when Philadelphia International Airport recorded minus-5 degrees.
The precipitation is likely to end, but the high winds and sub-freezing temperatures will persist. Wind gusts could also bring down power lines. For motorists, black ice and reduced visibility because of blowing winds will remain issues.
DiBerardinis said the bitter cold caused numerous breaks in water mains, and Philadelphia Water Department crews were working to restore water service.
In the school district, all after-school activities including all athletic programs and professional development sessions scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday are canceled. All District early childhood centers will also be closed. School District headquarters will open two hours later than usual.
The snow emergency for Philadelphia was lifted at 8 p.m. Thursday, allowing residents to resume parking on snow emergency routes, which have already been plowed.
Motorists whose cars were towed from emergency routes may call (215) 686-SNOW to locate their vehicles. Normal parking enforcement will resume at 6 a.m. Saturday.
Motorists who parked in PPA garages before the emergency was lifted will receive a $5 special rate if they go to the garage management office and exit the garage by 10 a.m. Friday.
The Philadelphia International Airport remained open, but more than 440 flights were cancelled Thursday. Travelers were advised to check directly with their airlines for flight status updates.
Sanitation collections are to resume on Friday but residents should expect delays. Wednesday’s trash will be picked up on Friday, and Friday’s will be picked up on Saturday. Residents who normally have collections on Thursdays are asked to hold their trash and recycling until next Thursday.
The City’s Code Blue remains in effect until further notice, to prevent weather related deaths among homeless people. City officials urge concerned citizens who see a person living on the street to call Homeless Outreach at (215) 232-1984 and report the address, location and description of the person in need, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
City Council President Darrell Clarke issued a tweet Thursday advising city offices to close due to the weather.
“I’m advising @PHLCouncil offices to close now so staff can get home safely,” he tweeted. “Stay inside if you can, follow @PhilaOEM for updates. Thanks to all who are working around the clock to keep people safe & warm today! #BombCyclone”.
All Philadelphia courts closed early on Thursday. “Due to the deteriorating weather conditions, all courts will be closing today at noon,” said an official’s statement on Twitter. “All critical court services are expected to remain operational.”
As far as the Free Library of Philadelphia, all locations closed at 5 p.m. Thursday. The Philadelphia Parking Authority did not enforce meter and time limit violations and offered discounted parking in Center City parking garages because of the storm.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office originally announced it was open Thursday morning, but then released a brief statement on Twitter that offices would be closed for the remainder of the day.
All Philadelphia museums closed at noon “due to blustery snowy weather conditions.”