Mayor Michael Nutter declared a snow emergency in Philadelphia beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday and urged residents to stay off roads expected to see 8 to 12 inches of snow and perhaps more, along with strong winds that would make for dangerous driving conditions.
"We are urging all Philadelphians, please be careful, please be safe," the mayor told reporters at City Hall. Nutter urged residents and travelers to get an early start and be off the roads by the time the storm hit because "when it happens, it will hit very hard."
The National Football League postponed the Philadelphia Eagles' game against the Minnesota Vikings until Tuesday night - the first Tuesday game since 1946. The Vikings have already had two home games affected by the weather, a Dec. 12 game moved to Detroit when the Metrodome roof collapsed and the following week's game played at the University of Minnesota.
At Philadelphia International Airport, about 400 flights had been canceled by Sunday afternoon, about 65 and 70 percent of average arrivals and departures, spokeswoman Victoria Lupica said. She said a hospitality program was ready to assist stranded travelers, especially those arriving later on international flights.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority vowed to keep buses, subways, trolleys and regional rails operating for as long as possible but said significant delays could be expected on some lines if the storm progressed as expected.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning through 1 p.m. Monday, projecting 8 to 12 inches of snow in Philadelphia and its suburbs and 6 to 10 inches for areas of eastern Pennsylvania to the north. A winter weather advisory was in effect for central and western Pennsylvania with amounts ranging from 2 to 6 inches expected.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said trucks had been out the night before pouring brine on major highways, and 410 trucks would be salting and plowing the roads during the storm. Regular trash collection scheduled for Monday was suspended to allow sanitation vehicles to be redeployed to snowplowing duties.
Other municipalities in suburban Philadelphia and eastern Pennsylvania also declared snow emergencies, asking residents to move any parked vehicles off of snow emergency routes. More than 200 trucks were deployed in the six-county area around the Lehigh Valley north of Philadelphia.
Philadelphia has also declared a Code Blue weather emergency, which gives officials the power to go out onto the streets and bring in homeless people to shelters because the weather conditions pose a threat of serious harm or death.
Nutter also urged residents to quickly de-ice their steps and clear a sidewalk path as required by law once the snow stops, and he asked them to clear sewer openings and fire hydrants as well.