Schools are closed, grocery stores are running low on milk, egg and bread supplies, and towns are loading up the anti-skid and keeping a close watch on weather reports as the area braces for a snow-laden nor'easter expected to pound into the coal region today into tomorrow.
Winter storm "Nemo," the wild child of two pressure systems, one blowing in from the Ohio Valley and the other roaring up the east coast from North Carolina, could dump anywhere from about six inches to more than a foot of snow, depending on the forecaster and the area. The Poconos may see as much as 14 inches of snow.
The National Weather Service anticipates one to two inches today, another three to five inches overnight, and about a half-inch tomorrow. The precipitation is expected to start as a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain, turning to all snow as the temperatures drop from about 30 degrees this morning to the low 20s tonight.
But the New England states are expected to bear the brunt of nature's fury. The blizzard could bury New England states, Massachusetts particularly, under at least two feet of snow and mountains of drifts from hurricane-force winds.
Locally, Saturday is expected to be cloudy, cold and blustery, with wind gusts up to 28 mph. Sunday is expected to offer a brief oasis of calm sunshine, with temperatures reaching a high of about 35 degrees.
Then, Mother Nature slaps back again with a chance of freezing rain Sunday night into Monday.
All schools in the Carbon-Tamaqua area were closed today. Lansford activated a state of emergency at midnight, putting its winter parking rules into effect.
Schuylkill County Meals on Wheels will not operate today, and senior centers are closed.
PPL is preparing for the storm.
"We take every storm seriously and prepare so that we can respond effectively and safely to our customers," said David Bonenberger, vice president of Distribution Operations for PPL Electric Utilities.
"With each storm, we've improved our systems and refined our processes. We'll do all we can to keep our customers and the public informed."
To prepare for the coming winter weather, PPL Electric Utilities activated the company's central Emergency Response Center at 8 a.m. today to coordinate systemwide preparations and response and regional emergency response centers with their operating and support staff; alerting all storm response personnel to prepare for extended shifts and around-the-clock operations Friday through Saturday and holding all contractors working on the system to be available for support; and calling up 100 utility workers from its sister utilities in Kentucky, Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities, to arrive Friday afternoon to assist in power restoration efforts, if needed.
PPL customers are advised to contact PPL Electric Utilities if they lose service at 1-800-DIAL-PPL (1-800-342-5775) or access www.pplelectric.com/outage .
As in all winter storms, common sense is the phrase of the day: Don't travel unless you absolutely must. If you must travel, keep others apprised of your itinerary, and keep blankets, water and snacks in the car. Keep your cell phone charged, and your gas tank full.
Check up on elderly or infirm neighbors and family members, do not use candles for light if the power goes out, and fill jugs with water.