HERCULES FLEXES MUSCLES
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Cars slowly make their way on snow-covered Route 443 in Lehighton Friday morning.
The coldest weather in several years will be arriving by tonight and temperatures are expected to fall below zero.
This comes after a pesky snowstorm, named Hercules by The Weather Channel, dumped anywhere from 6 to 10 inches of snow throughout the region.
Temperatures will plummet to as much as 3 below zero tonight, according to some predictions.
Even this afternoon, the arrival of the cold front will be accompanied by high winds which will drop wind chills to about 20 below.
Although a warmer air mass is predicted to arrive for Sunday when the mercury could reach over 40 degrees, accompanied by rain, another shot of cold weather comes next week with sub-zero temperatures returning Monday night.
Snow has been great for skiers but a nuisance for others.
Commuting was difficult Thursday night as the snow, accompanied by winds, made visibility low.
By late afternoon, PennDOT had reduced the speed limit on all the major area roadways including Interstates 80, 81, and 78 to 45 miles per hour.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike also reduced its speed limit.
Speed limits were returned to normal by late this morning.
Road crews worked all night to keep highways passable.
This was the fourth snowstorm in about three weeks.
According to the National Weather Service, snow totals from last night's storm as measured by trained spotters were:
Lake Harmony, 7.5 inches.
Albrightsville, 7.2 inches.
Lehighton, 7.0 inches.
Palmerton, 6.2 inches.
Tresckow, 5.8 inches.
John Stoj reported that 10 inches fell in Towamensing Trails, Penn Forest Township.
Robert Risley reported that 8 inches of snow fell in South Tamaqua but drifts were 2 and 1/2 feet deep.
Children returned to classes yesterday from their Christmas break, but were dismissed early because of snow arriving in the afternoon.
All schools in the area were closed today, and tonight's sporting events were canceled.
Numerous crashes, although none reported with life-threatening injuries, occurred throughout the area.
The snow ended at about 4:30 a.m. in Brodheadsville. Throughout the area, roads were snow-covered for early morning commuters.
The Schuylkill County Courthouse closed at 3:45 p.m. yesterday due to the storm.
Guilty pleas in Carbon County Court, scheduled for 9 a.m. today, were delayed until 10:30 a.m.
Most offices of the American Red Cross delayed opening until 10:30 a.m. today. The Schuylkill County Chapter remained closed.
More precipitation is expected on Sunday, but it is predicted to start as snow and freezing rain, then change to all rain.
Another snow event could occur next Thursday as the cycle seems to be continuing.
Nearly two weeks ago, on Dec. 22, a record high temperature of 65 degrees was set at Lehigh Valley International Airport.
Today's record low in Allentown of 6, set in 1945, might possibly be broken this evening.
Temperatures considered normal for today's date is a high of 38 and a low of 22.
In Reading, the record temperature for today's date is 1 degree, set in 1918. Forecasters believe that record might be eclipsed.
Yesterday's snowstorm wasn't nearly as bad as a crippling blizzard that buried Eastern Pennsylvania with 30 inches of snow on Jan. 6, 1821.
On Jan. 12, 1981, temperatures as low as 20 below zero were reported, with the thermometer on a bank in downtown Lehighton showing minus 11.
The coldest temperature we know of in the region happened on Feb. 9, 1934, when the mercury plummeted to minus 27 in Lansford and minus 30 in Lake Hauto.