A potent winter storm that has officially been classified as a "bomb cyclone" has been dumping snow on the Philadelphia area and has created blizzard-like conditions at the Jersey Shore, prompting Gov Christie to declare a state of emergency for coastal counties. Many schools are closed, including Philadelphia public and Archdiocesan schools. Those schools will also be closed Friday. The National Weather Service has increased its accumulation projections at the Shore, where a blizzard warning is in effect, from as much as a foot to as much as 18 inches.
Philadelphia public schools will be closed Friday for the second day in a row. The school district's administrative offices will be open Friday but operating on a two-hour delay. Archdiocesan grade schools in the city will remain closed, as will all Archdiocesan high schools. Catholic grade schools in the suburbs typically follow their local districts in deciding whether to open. A complete list of school closings and delays is available from NBC Philadelphia.
Powerful winds will continue to cause drifting, with whiteout conditions at the Shore.
Wind chills are in the single digits, and are expected to drop below zero late Thursday night. Morning lows of 5 and 2 are expected Saturday and Sunday. In addition to driving wind-chill factors to dangerous levels, winds could knock down power lines, the National Weather Service is warning.
Temperatures are not expected to get above freezing until Monday.
From the weather service forecast discussion: "The falling snow will be done by tonight but very strong winds and falling temperatures will be a big issue and continue to create high impacts with blowing/drifting snow and bitter wind chills. Most of our eastern Pennsylvania zones are under a wind chills advisory . . . By Friday morning expect lows generally ranging from around zero to 10 above with wind chills ranging from 5 to 25 below zero!"
Road conditions are hazardous and visibility is poor. Officials have been called to accidents all day.
Southbound lanes of the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike are closed between Exit 44 in Quakertown and Exit 31 in Landsale because of an overturned tractor trailer. Speed restrictions are in effect on the interstates, the New Jersey and Pennsylvania turnpikes, and the Delaware River bridges.
In Philadelphia, a snow emergency in effect, barring cars from parking on designated snow emergency routes. The Philadelphia Parking Authority is offering $5, 24-hour parking at six Center City garages until the city's snow emergency ends. On residential blocks, drivers do not have to pay at meters or kiosks and may disregard time limits.
Road conditions in Delaware County are "very bad," said John McBlain, chairman of Delaware County Council. "We have traffic accidents and stalled vehicles on roadways all over the place," added Timothy Boyce, the county's director for emergency services. "The Blue Route has been a mess all day." Boyce said he would advise motorists to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.
A 2 p.m., officials reported a multi-vehicle crash on I-95 southbound at Exit 7 to I-476 North.
SEPTA: Service on the West Trenton Line has resumed following a fatal collision between a train and a car at a crossing in Lower Moreland Township, Montgomery County. On Friday, Regional Rail will be on an enchanced Saturday schedule. Wilmington/Newark trains will operate additional service to Newark and Churchmans Crossing and buses will replace Cynwyd trains. Currently, trains are subject to delays of up to 60 minutes and cancellations. As more specific information becomes available on which trains may be cancelled, we'll provide passenger updates. Check www.septa.org for updates or go to www.septa.org/alert/twitter.html to customize a Twitter alert. SEPTA will operate on a special schedule Friday.
NJTRANSIT: Up to 15 minutes delay on all rail lines. Buses, light rail and rail lines are cross honoring tickets and passes.
PATCO: Running on a special snow schedule.
Amtrak: Operating a modified schedule between New York and Boston. Keystone Service to Harrisburg will operate as usual.
The FAA has lifted a ground hold at originating airports for flights headed to Philadelphia International Airport. More than 235 flights into, or out of, PHL have already been canceled. Check your airline or phl.org for flight information. Some airlines are waiving rebooking fees for flights to cities that will be affected by the storm along the East Coast. Check with your airline to see if the waiver applies to you.
Philadelphia courts closed at noon. New Jersey government offices are closed. Some county and municipal offices outside Philadelphia have closed.
Philadelphia city offices, including the District Attorney's Office, will be closed Friday. The city planned to lift its snow emergency declaration at 8 p.m. Thursday, allowing people to again park along snow-emergency routes. The city's Code Blue for homeless outreach will remain in effect until further notice, officials said.