Here’s What You Need to Know About the Snowstorm

We're expected to get 12 to 18 inches of snow starting Friday evening. Here's what city and state officials want you to know.

Forecast map - Philadelphia snowfall - National Weather Service

The latest snowfall forecast from the National Weather Service’s Mt. Holly branch.

We’re going to get walloped with snow this weekend. The latest snowfall forecast from the National Weather Service’s Mt. Holly branch says the city will be hit with about 12 to 18 inches of snow starting Friday evening. The snow should continue until about early Sunday morning.

Philadelphia is going to take the brunt of the snowfall in the state. “The closer you live to Philadelphia, the higher chance you have for the bigger snow totals,” said state meteorologist Jeff Jumper. “The closer to Philadelphia you live, the higher the wind speeds.” Less snow is expected down the shore, but the storm surge predictions are on par with what happened during Hurricane Sandy.

Mayor Jim Kenney held a press conference this afternoon at City Hall to update Philadelphians on the snowstorm. The city has not yet declared a snow emergency, but is leaning toward it. Officials will make a decision tomorrow. The city has already started brining the streets. There will be a full deployment of 400 plows and 600 city workers plowing and salting the streets. Starting sometime this weekend, there will be $5 parking in Philadelphia Parking Authority lots.

There’s also a change to trash and recycling collection. Due to MLK Day, collection has been delayed one day this week. Regular Thursday pickup will still take place tomorrow, but Friday trash collection will not take place on Saturday as scheduled. People with Friday trash collection are asked to hold it until next Friday. SEPTA buses and trains are expected to be delayed; city officials said to check SEPTA.org for up-to-date transit information.

Kenney also noted two important numbers for Philadelphians to keep in mind. If anyone sees a homeless person sleeping on the streets during a snowstorm, they’re asked to call Project HOME at 215-232-1984. You’ll be asked to give a location and description. It’s also illegal to keep your pets outside during times of extreme cold. Anyone who sees an animal tied up outside in the snow is asked to call ACCT at 267-385-3800.

The mayor also commented on the police department’s notice that you’re not allowed to save any space you dug out for your car. He agrees with the stance.

“I’ve dug out a number of cars in my day,” Kenney said, adding that he used to live on a tiny street in South Philly. “My own, and my neighbor’s. It’s frustrating when you dig out a space and you think it’s yours. It isn’t. Let’s all try to be considerate. We’ve had people in danger, fights, all kinds of things. Let’s be thoughtful with each other. … I think the police are doing the right thing in telling people that this is not their space and they should not try to save it.”

Earlier in the day, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf held his own press conference on how the state is handling weather prep. “We cannot control the weather, but we can all be prepared for whatever the weather brings us,” Wolf said. “We should prioritize our safety. I urge all residents to heed all warnings and alerts.”

Richard Flinn, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, said residents should use extreme caution all weekend during the snowstorm. “If you don’t have to go out, don’t,” he said. “Families should be prepared to stay in their house, and be prepared that they’re going to lose power. We’ve always said, be prepared for a 72-hour period of time.”

PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said the state has 730,000 tons of salt on hand. It has 4,800 equipment operators and 2,000 trucks available this weekend, and will also rent an additional 270 trucks to help with snow removal and salting. So far this winter, PennDOT has used 91,000 tons of salt; last year at this point it had used 600,000 tons of salt.

The Pennsylvania State Police will be sending its troopers out in all-wheel-drive vehicles this weekend. “We’d like to let the public know that it’s very important that we be smart about our travel during inclement weather,” said Col. Tyree Blocker, director of the state police. “If you don’t have to be out on our highways, perhaps consider not driving. That’s being smart. … you need to be aware of your surroundings. The roadways: Are they icy, or are they just wet? Sometimes roadways appear wet but are actually icy.”

In the event of a power outage, Public Utilities Commission Chair Gladys Brown says to call your utility company, not 911. “Make sure you call your utility company if there is some kind of outage,” she said. “We want you to call them. We do not want people to call 911. This may be an emergency to you, but we need to keep those lines open.” The PUC website has a list of all the electric companies in the state.

American Airlines has already canceled all of its flights at PHL on Saturday. There will also be a lighter schedule on Friday night. Flights are expected to resume on Sunday morning.

The snow has also affected sporting events. The St. Joseph’s/La Salle basketball game, scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m., was postponed until Sunday at 5 p.m. Temple’s game against undefeated SMU, scheduled for 8 p.m. on Saturday night, has been moved to Sunday at a time yet to be announced. Villanova’s game at the Wells Fargo Center, scheduled for Saturday at noon, has been moved to Sunday at 1 p.m.

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