First major snowfall brings storm warning, closes schools

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia region gets its first significant snowfall of the season today.

A winter storm warning kicked in at 6 a.m. for the northern suburbs, and a winter weather advisory starts at 9 a.m. for the city and South Jersey.

Dozens of schools in the area are closed. Philadelphia schools are still open.

Among them is the Centennial School District in Warminster, Pa., which has given about 6,000 students, staff and faculty an extension to their Thanksgiving holiday weekend. 

With temperatures in the 30s and rain failling earlier in the morning, many people who spoke to KYW Newsradio said they think calling a snow day was premature.

Anthony Jackson from West Philadelphia says this would never happen when he was a kid.

“We had to go to school! When I went to school, we had to go to school in the snow. And I walked to school and walked home,” he said. “These kids got it good.”

Dan Brown in Warminster said if the school district ends up unnecesasrily burning up a snow day, then they will have to make up for it at the end of the year. 

He says he doesn’t remember this happening when he was a student.

“I lived up in Northern Bucks County,” he said. “So when it snowed, it had to really bad for the schools to close.”

Snow has started falling. Accumulations of three to five inches are predicted, and everyone will soon see if the school districts have made the right call.

Meanwhile, PennDOT trucks are positioned along highways throughout the region and ready to roll. 

PennDOT’s Chelsea Lacey-Mabe, who is monitoring operations in Philadelphia and the suburban counties, says the trucks are fully loaded with salt, and drivers have the plow blades at the ready.

“As soon as an inch or more accumulates, the plow blades go down,” she said. 

Lacey-Mabe says PennDOT has a full call-out for equipment to battle the storm.

“More than 180 plow trucks,” she said, “and then we’ll have contractor trucks as needed, depending on the county. And it looks like our far northern and western suburbs will be dealing with more accumulation.”

Lacey-Mabe says PennDOT has plenty of salt on hand: more than 130,000 tons spread throughout Philadelphia and the five-county region.

PennDOT has issued a ban on all commercial vehicles on Interstates 78 and 80 to New Jersey.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike has also reduced the speed limit to 45 mph on the Northeast Extension north of the Pocono interchange to Clarks Summit and has banned all double trailers, empty trailers, non-commercial vehicles pulling trailers, recreational vehicles and motorcycles in that area of the turnpike.

And at Philadelphia International Airport, the FAA has issued a traffic management plan because of weather and low ceilings.

What this means is some arriving flights to Philly could be delayed an average of 55 minutes.

Travelers are urged to check with their airlines to see if flights are affected. A check of the big board at the airport shows a handful of cancellations so far.

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KYW Newsradio’s Kim Glovas and Mark Abrams contributed to this report.

Related: Northeast gets its turn with messy storm of snow, rain, wind

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