It's a doozy!!!
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS The snow makes a pretty picture at this farm along Route 443 in Mahoning Township, but for most motorists, the driving situation today is anything but pretty. About a foot of snow was being projected for the area before the storm ends this evening.
This morning, commutes were difficult.
By tonight, the drive could be horrendous.
Both the National Weather Service and Accuweather warn that the worst of the storm will strike this afternoon and evening.
The Weather Service isn't ruling out the potential for blizzard conditions with high winds arriving late this afternoon and tonight. Blizzard warnings have been posted for Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Chester, Bucks, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties.
The blizzard warning area could potentially be increased by tonight.
Even if no blizzard warning is issued, the weather services says there will be "near blizzard" conditions.
About a foot of snow appears to be the consensus of forecasters for most of the area.
The NWS out of Mount Holly, N.J. states in its weather synopsis for the local region:
"The snow will be accompanied by increasingly strong winds by late morning and especially through the afternoon, with winds increasing to 20 to 25 miles per hour with gusts up to 40 miles per hour this afternoon. Blizzard conditions are expected to develop in some areas. The road conditions and the visibilities are expected to worsen throughout the day."
Schools in the area prepared early, with most announcing by last evening that today's classes were canceled.
The Carbon County Courthouse closed today. Many businesses also closed because of the continually deteriorating weather.
The storm is also creating havoc on garbage collecting in many municipalites.
Tamaqua Transfer and Recycling, which has contracts in numerous local municpalities, announced the following changes:
• Tamaqua's recycling will be picked up tomorrow instead of today. Normal pickups for Thursday will occur in Tamaqua.
• In Summit Hill, garbage collection scheduled for today will be tomorrow.
• West Penn Township will have trash pickup tomorrow instead of today.
• Lansford is operating on a normal schedule for garbage collection.
• An effort is being made to collect garbage in Palmerton today.
Joe Fittos, Summit Hill's chief of police, said this morning the storm hadn't presented any problems as of yet.
"There's not a lot of people driving around," he said, indicating this was good for the road crews.
He said the hills into the community are "passable," adding, "PennDOT crews are making regular passes on them."
Philadelphia, which got 28 inches of snow this past weekend, was bracing for another 18 inches of snow. Already by 2 a.m. today, seven additional inches of new accumulation fell at the Philadelphia International Airport.
New York City escaped the wrath of the weekend storm but it is in the bull's-eye for a hit this time around, and could get well over a foot of snow.
PennDOT announced a temporary reduction in speed limits on all interstate highways across the state.
In conjunction with similar restrictions imposed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, PennDOT is restricting these types of vehicles:
• Class 9 vehicles (Overweight and over-dimensional trucks)
• Large Combination Vehicles (tandem trailers and doubles)
• Tractors hauling empty trailers
• Trailers pulled by passenger vehicles
• Recreational Vehicles, or RVs
Vehicles in these classifications should pull over to a safe area and wait for the restriction to be lifted. PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission cannot guarantee that secondary routes will be passable and those who risk traveling on those lower-traffic-volume routes may face long delays.
PennDOT urges motorists to not travel unless absolutely necessary.
St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network closed its outpatient service facilities as a result of the road and weather conditions. Outpatient facilities include laboratory services, clinics, urgent care facilities, women's imaging, women's health centers and perinatal centers.