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Snow takes forecasters, Eagles by surprise

By the end of the Eagles' 34-20 victory over the Lions, 8 inches of snow had fallen on the field.

AT ABOUT 10:15 a.m., Eagles president Don Smolenski was walking through a parking lot across from Lincoln Financial Field, chatting with some tailgaters. The slightest hint of snow had just begun to fall, the kind that hits your windshield and evaporates almost immediately.

An hour later, it was snowing in earnest. Two hours later, it was getting harder to read the markings on the field. Six hours later, Smolenski was being told by his people that the total snowfall on the field had been 8 inches.

And, yes, he was as surprised as anyone.

"We get weather updates three or four times a day," Smolenski said. "And all of our forecasts - plus I watched the news this morning - and all of them said they didn't expect the snow to start until midafternoon, sometime after 2 o'clock, with some light accumulations kind of turning over to freezing rain after 5, 6 o'clock, and then turning to all rain. The last update I had was at about 9 in the morning, and that's what you have.

"But once it starts [snowing], it starts. And you just kind of go with it."

Smolenski said the surfaces outside the stadium had been salted by the city in anticipation of the forecast storm. After the unexpected snow began, he said, "I think our guys responded really well."

The Eagles' track record on this kind of business has been good. Most famously, in January of 2005, they cleared Lincoln Financial Field of about a foot of snow that fell on the day before the NFC Championship Game.

- Rich Hofmann