Pennsylvanians Take Precautions as Storm Approaches

Gov. Tom Wolf declared a state of emergency as a nor'easter approached. The Philadelphia area was expected to be hardest hit, with a foot of snow possible.

The storm led airlines to cancel thousands of flights and prompted Philadelphia and other school districts to send students home early Monday. The snow was expected to intensify in the Philadelphia area, although the state could be spared the blizzard conditions forecast for New York and New England.

Some snapshots from around the state:


Gwynne Sigel, retrieving her daughter at about noon Monday at Albert M. Greenfield School in Philadelphia, wondered if the storm will be as bad as advertised. Still, she understands the need for caution.

"It's always eleventh hour with the early dismissals. But, with the snow, it's tricky," Sigel said. "They carry on a lot here in Philly, the weathermen. They always think it's going to be terrible and then you have to wait and see."

Her 13-year-old daughter, Zamira Sigel-Kulick, planned to sleep in Tuesday if schools are closed. But she can't laze around all day.

"My teachers gave us a lot of homework to do tomorrow," Zamira said.


As light snow began to coat roads, Philadelphia International Airport was relatively calm Monday afternoon.

Gina Mort, 59, of Illinois, waited on a friend from Delaware to pick her up for a weeklong visit. Her flight from Chicago had been only a half-hour late.

"This is turning out a lot better than I expected," Mort said.

Mort's visits have earned her the nickname "Hurricane Gina." The last time she was in town, Hurricane Sandy swept up the East Coast.


Gov. Tom Wolf issued an emergency declaration to help state and local agencies deal with the storm. At a late afternoon news conference, he said that it was "not time to get excited or panicky," but he asked people to avoid driving.

The National Guard activated 150 guardsmen, stationed in the Philadelphia region, where officials were expecting high winds and 10 to 14 inches of snow.

In Philadelphia, public and Catholic schools dismissed students at about noon Monday. The city declared a snow emergency, which means, among other things, that cars must be removed from snow emergency routes.

The National Weather Service expected the heaviest bands of snow to arrive in Philadelphia between 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Mayor Michael Nutter expected the gusting winds and plunging temperatures would pose difficulties for crews trying to clear snow during and after the storm.


Jeff Greene, who braved the start of the storm Monday to sell the latest issue of Philadelphia's One Step Away homeless newspaper, had no complaints.

"I love it," he said. "I'm from Chicago, so we're used to (it)."

He expects police and outreach workers to take anyone on the street into a shelter.

"I'm very lucky," Greene said. "I've got my housing. I'm out here giving back, helping others."


Trains, trolleys and buses continued to operate normally during the Monday evening rush, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said. However, transit officials were preparing for snow to descend throughout the night.

Septa said it was fortunate that the heaviest snow was set to fall overnight, when services are limited. That should help workers prepare for the morning rush, Septa spokeswoman Jerri Williams said.


Homeless packed Philadelphia's Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission before dark Monday. The Rev. Sam Peake, a chaplain, said they expect up to 300 people to eat hot meals and sleep at the mission.

At Project HOME, a nonprofit homeless advocacy organization in the city, workers fanned out to help bring the homeless off the streets.

Outreach worker Sam Santiago joined a city councilman in the effort and urged residents to call Project HOME if they had concerns about someone who may be homeless.

"Some people will seek refuge in train stations or any place that people can go to get warm," said Jennine Miller, the group's director of advocacy and public policy. "For anybody that is still outside, we want to make sure they get inside as quickly as possible."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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