Winter storm closes schools, causes hassles in Pa.

Cars navigated the snowy roads in on Route 70 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey overnight.

January 12, 2011 5:59:45 PM PST
A winter storm that dropped a half-foot of snow or more on parts of Pennsylvania caused travel difficulties and other problems Wednesday - but a little help from Mother Nature kept it from being worse.

One storm-related death was reported in western Pennsylvania, with the Allegheny County coroner's office reporting that a 77-year-old Aliquippa man suffered a heart attack while he was out clearing snow Tuesday night.

Travel advisories remained in effect for parts of western Pennsylvania by the late afternoon as snow continued to fall and winds picked up. The Pennsylvania Turnpike implemented a reduced 45 mph speed limit on an 86-mile stretch of highway from New Stanton to Breezewood, as snowy conditions continued.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said the storm's fortuitous timing was key to a successful response in the eastern part of the state - and kept the commuter headaches from being worse.

"It couldn't have gotten any better for us, other than being on a weekend," PennDOT spokesman Charles Metzger said. With snow ending around 2 a.m. in the Philadelphia area, trucks with plows and salt had plenty of time to hit roadways before commuters headed out.

"The snow stopping earlier is a big help," Metzger said. "Our plows are subject to traffic just like everyone else."

In Philadelphia, which got about 5 to 7 inches, the city declared a snow emergency and schools were closed - as were schools in many suburban districts - but the emergency was later lifted.

The storm also shut down schools across the state in Pittsburgh, where more than 6 inches fell and the snow was continuing Wednesday afternoon. The National Weather Service said much of western Pennsylvania got about 6-8 inches of snow, while parts of Somerset County in the Alleghany Mountains got about a foot or more.

Travelers trying to get in or out of Philadelphia by plane experienced some cancelations, but the snow was at its worst just when demand was lowest at Philadelphia International Airport.

About 350 employees worked through the night to keep air traffic moving, with about 120 total flights canceled Wednesday morning, said airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica. Many of those cancelations were the result of weather problems elsewhere.

"The timing of the storm gave our crews lots of time to get out there," Lupica said.

About 120 people spent the night in the airport, which supplied snacks and blankets to passengers who missed connections and opted to skip heading to a hotel.

The storm caused few major problems on roadways statewide, although there were a handful of crashes and jackknifed tractor-trailers reported, said PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar, who urged drivers to continue using caution amid the threat of drifting.

"We'll have crews out there until the roads are bare," Chizmar said.

But mostly, people described the latest round of winter as more of an inconvenience than anything else.

"This one today is more of an annoyance," said Wally Giordano, 51, as he opened up his produce store in the Italian Market in south Philadelphia. "It's not going to stop business."


Associated Press writers Angie Yack and Randy Pennell contributed to this report.

Overnight snow causing few problems in NJ

A snow-weary New Jersey woke up Wednesday to up to a foot of fresh snow on the ground, schools closed, office openings delayed and flights canceled.

But unlike the monstrosity of a winter storm mess just over two weeks earlier, this one wasn't such a big deal.

The fluffy snow made for easy shoveling, for one thing.

"It's a lot easier now, this is nothing," said Angelica Cortinas, who was clearing snow in front of her home in Newark's Ironbound neighborhood Wednesday. "I'll take this every day. I won't move to Minnesota though. I'll keep New Jersey."

Major roads also were cleared quickly.

"Being that it was overnight, they could catch up to it pretty well. There's nothing major we're dealing with at this point," said State Police Sgt. Julian Castellanos.

New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesman Joe Orlando said the Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway were both in good shape, in part because travelers heeded warnings and stayed off the roads overnight, giving plows a clearer path.

By midday, the Parkway was cleared down to the blacktop in most areas. The Turnpike still had some speed limit as plows finished clearing outer lanes and shoulders, but much of the road was back to normal.

Scattered accidents were reported, including a jackknifed tractor-trailer on Route 287 in Edison, and a car that spun out on an exit ramp of Route 80 west in Parsippany.

A worker clearing snow from a truck at a towing business in North Brunswick was killed Wednesday morning when he was crushed by a flatbed accidentally lowered onto him by a co-worker.

Snow totals ranged from an inch and a half in Atlantic City to just over a foot in Bergen County's East Rutherford.

For a swath of the state stretching from the Philadelphia suburbs to near New York City, forecasts that called for about 6 to 12 inches of snow were spot-on.

Newark Liberty International Airport reported 8 inches of snow, enough to cancel more than 500 flights. Many were scratched in advance. Flights that were departing were leaving the ground only about 15 minutes behind schedule.

Masal Nachmia, 60, and her husband, Real Gaudreau, were stranded overnight at Newark as they traveled back home to Ottawa, Canada, from a trip to China.

They couple were amused that so many flights, including theirs, were canceled.

"I don't understand," she said. "We are Canadian, we are used to snow, and there is no snow outside."

State offices delayed openings by two hours - and many local governments also shortened their schedules.

By Wednesday afternoon, New Jersey Transit reported trains and buses running on or close to schedule.


Contributing were AP writers Wayne Parry in Point Pleasant, Samantha Henry in Newark and Geoff Mulvihill in Haddonfield, and AP videographer Bonny Ghosh in Newark.

Del. government offices opening late after storm

Delaware state government offices are opening an hour late in Kent and New Castle counties due to the snowfall.

Officials say offices in both counties will open at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Nonessential employees are being asked to report to work at 10 a.m., while essential employees should report to work as scheduled.

In Wilmington, officials say city offices will also open at 10 a.m.