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No 'Storm of Century'

Published February 26. 2010 05:00PM

Chances are when you woke up this morning, your car was clear of snow thanks to the heavy winds.

Or, maybe your car was almost totally buried under drifting snow.

It was the wind which made yesterday's storm tough to handle. While early weather reports indicated this could be the "Storm of the Century," accumulated totals were less for most of the Carbon-Schuylkill area than the storm on Feb. 16. Road crews, though, found that overnight as the wind increased in intensity, drifting made it hard to keep many roads open.

Ron Young, public information officer for District 5-0 of PennDOT, said due to the winter storm, PennDOT and the state police restricted certain types of vehicles on interstates and expressways in northeast Pennsylvania.

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, all commercial traffic (except school buses and tow trucks responding to incidents), motorcycles and recreational vehicles were banned on Interstates 380 and 84 until further notice. Beginning at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, the ban was extended to I-80 in both directions between the New Jersey line and the interstate's intersection with I-81 until further notice.

Locally, the storm dumped eight inches of snow on Tamaqua, said Ronald Yurchak, observer for the National Weather Service.

In Allentown, a foot of snow was measured at the Lehigh Valley International Airport.

Summit Hill had about nine inches of snow.

The storm arrived Wednesday night and although about two inches of snow fell Thursday morning, roads were only wet. Most afternoon commuters didn't encounter serious problems.

During the night, the howling winds grew in intensity. and made it difficult for many to sleep. It whipped the snow out of some driveways and piled it onto porches or into other driveways.

One of the problem areas this morning was Bugzie's Hill, Route 902, where drifting filled the roadway with snow no sooner than PennDOT workers plowed it.

The snowstorm meant school closures for two days throughout the area.

PPL Utilities entered a storm emergency at 2:45 p.m. yesterday. This morning a total of 623 customers had sustained outages in 13 counties, extending from Monroe to Dauphin.

Many outages were in Schuylkill County, particularly Walker and West Penn townships where 258 customers found themselves without electricity.

Monroe County had 21 customers without power. There were no power outages reported in Carbon or Lehigh Counties, according to PPL.

The National Weather Service says the storm was the result of a very strong area of low pressure. By the weekend, this system will move toward New England, but bands of snow will rotate around the system and affect the area through the morning and even into the afternoon. More snow could possibly fall from the resulting snow showers.

The NWS in Mount Holly, N.J. said that at 4 a.m. today, the low was near Long Island, N.Y. but the bands of snow reached out as far as eastern Pennsylvania.

Winds will decrease as the day progresses, weather forecasters said.

The low pressure system that tracked from the Carolinas stayed further east than most forecasting computer models anticipated.

As a result, less moisture was pulled from the ocean and precipitation totals were less through the day yesterday than had been expected.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike remains under a Winter Storm Emergency.

The storm affected most of the state. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission applied restrictions to all travelers. Speed limits were reduced to 45 miles per hour between the Ohio line and the New Jersey line. Trucks pulling doubles or empty trailers are now restricted from traveling in this area.

Additionally, vehicles pulling campers, utility and horse trailers are also restricted.

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