Many communities are still without power today as traditional fall foliage and Halloween festivities were replaced over the weekend with a record snowfall measuring more than 13 inches in some local areas.
The heavy, wet snow that fell all day Saturday weighed down trees and branches throughout Pennsylvania, causing widespread damage and power outages, as well as disrupting communication and cable service. More than 300,000 PPL customers were left without power.
The storm struck the area 54 days before the official beginning of winter.
Five deaths are also being attributed to the storm in Pennsylvania.
Around 4 p.m. Saturday, PPL's website listed the number of power outages to customers in the TIMES NEWS coverage area as more than 95,000 customers, including 2,291 in Carbon County, 7,016 in Schuylkill, 65,778; in Lehigh, 625; in Monroe and 20,346 in Northampton Counties.
As of 8 a.m. today, PPL crews and subcontractors had restored service to more than 186,000 customers, leaving another 120,000 customers still without power.
Most of the affected customers are in the Lehigh Valley region, though outages also remain in other parts of PPL's 29-county service area.
According to the PPL website, restoration efforts are expected to last into the week. The company currently has more than 400 crews working to restore power.
"We'll be working around the clock to restore power for customers," PPL officials said in a press release. "We continue to seek additional assistance from other utilities in the mid-Atlantic."
Many communities experienced power outages lasting longer than seven hours. Summit Hill got its power back about 6 p.m. Sunday after it went out about 1 a.m. Sunday.
Portions of Coaldale had its power restored this morning, but lost it again a short time later, while the entire southwestern section of Tamaqua was without power for approximately seven hours Saturday.
The storm also resulted in record snowfall totals in many communities, including 13.5 inches in Summit Hill, 10 inches in Tamaqua and 12 inches in Hometown.
The combination of high accumulation and wet snow resulted in hundreds of fallen trees throughout our area. PennDOT, PPL, firefighters and local municipal workers spent all weekend clearing snow-covered roadways and power lines of fallen trees and branches, while fire police volunteers detoured traffic around these areas.
There were reports of fallen trees in almost every community in the region, resulting in the closure of many roads. SR54, east of Hometown, was closed for over seven hours after a large tree fell onto three high voltage power lines.
In Schuylkill County, fire and EMS crews responded to 340 weather-related incidents, according to John Matz, Schuylkill County's EMA coordinator. Local and state police had also responded to multiple crashes, fender benders and stuck vehicles Saturday.
In addition to slippery roadways, low hanging snow-covered branches made travel even more dangerous for drivers. Many residents and businesses spent much of the last two days shoveling snow, clearing fallen trees and waiting for their power to be turned back on.
"The unprecedented string of severe weather the last two months has caused repeated inconvenience and frustration," PPL's website states. "We can't say enough how much we appreciate your patience and perseverance through these trying times."
Customers with special needs or considerations – such as infants or elderly parents – are urged to make alternate arrangements as appropriate.
If you have not already called to report an outage, report it by calling 1-800-DIAL-PPL (1-800-342-5775) or at the PPL website. Additionally, PPL is urging customers calling to report outages to make sure they are calling from the primary phone number listed on their PPL account. If your cell phone is not listed, the system will not accept the report.
PPL also encourages people to stay away from downed power lines and always assume they are energized.
Residents are urged to run generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas and use flashlights instead of candles, where possible, to reduce the risk of fire.
Despite all the headaches, many children and families could still be seen outside enjoying the first snow of the season.