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Shoveling the day away

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    KATHY KUNKEL/TIMES NEWS Ann Kline waits patiently in her car while Rebecca Haldaman clears a parking space on Broad Street in Tamaqua this morning. Both women are employees of Schuylkill AAA's Tamaqua office.
Published February 05. 2014 12:28PM

Motorists had to spend some time cleaning off their cars before attempting their wintry commute this morning as a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain fell overnight.

The majority of schools in the TIMES NEWS coverage area announced closures Tuesday night in anticipation of the storm.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reduced speed limits to 45 mph on a number of state highways, including interstates 81 and 476; U.S. 22, and routes 33 and 309.

The storm began late last night and dropped several inches of snow, mixed with sleet across the region by daybreak.

In Nesquehoning, approximately four inches of snow, covered by a thick layer of sleet, was reported at 7 a.m.; in Still Creek, 10 inches of snow was recorded.

Margie Simmons of the West Penn/Andreas area, said she measured 6-and-a-half inches of snow as of 6:15 a.m.

John Stoj of Towamensing Trails, Penn Forest Township, said that area also had 6-and-a-half inches with sleet falling steadily at 6:45 a.m.

Brodheadsville had 6 inches before the rain started, while Lehighton had 5 inches of snow.

The changeover from snow to sleet mixing in occurred in some areas around 4 a.m. and changed over to freezing rain and sleet early this morning.

Heavy sleet was reported in Summit Hill at 7:30 a.m.

According to the National Weather Service, lingering snow showers may occur this evening as temperatures begin to fall into the teens.

One concern that was on everyone's mind was the potential of power outages because of ice.

PPL Electric has been operating under a storm emergency since 1:45 a.m.

As of 7:30 a.m., no PPL Electric customers in Carbon or Schuylkill counties were without power. Eighty-two customers had no power in Lehigh County; 34 in Northampton County; and none in Monroe.

Some issues with vehicles getting stuck were reported throughout Carbon County, as borough and township crews struggled to get to the side roads.

It wasn't easy for road crews. Tamaqua Public Works Department Director Rob Jones said, "Our guys were called out at 1 a.m. and we've pretty much been able to keep up with it. We have four trucks out and that's the maximum based on our work force. All of the streets have been plowed."

The freezing rain is another problem. "We have plenty of salt and anti-skid material," Jones said.

Starting at 1 a.m. Friday, the borough will begin snow removal operations on the south side of Broad Street and Center Street and then move out to the other streets as time and personnel allow.

Streets to be cleared will be posted at least 24 hours in advance and all vehicles must be removed before 1 a.m.

Palmerton Borough Manager Rodger Danielson said, "It's no surprise to anybody that's been out at all. It's a very slippery type of snowstorm, with the snow, sleet, and freezing rain."

Crews are working to gain control. "Hopefully by the end of the day, it will be a different commute for people coming back home," Danielson said.

The area will get a few days without snow before the next storm will move through.

According to the National Weather Service, the next storm system may hit over the weekend. No details on snow totals or time frame have yet to be determined.

Kathy Kunkel and Terry Ahner contributed to this report.

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