Winter Wonderland Blankets the Region

A powerful storm that crept across the country dropped snow, freezing rain and sleet on Philadelphia, turning the Philadelphia Eagles' football field into a winter wonderland. The storm dumped one foot of snow in Delaware and threatened a messy Monday commute.

NBC10 chief meteorologist Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz reports temperatures will land near the freezing mark Monday morning, resulting in a rainy and slushy commute. By 6 a.m. rain was falling over much of the area as temps hovered just above freezing.

From runways to roadways, the Sunday afternoon storm had more intensity and moved faster than predicted, causing chaos. The roads became slippery and hard to maneuver.

All planes at the Philadelphia airpot were grounded during the worst period of the storm and by nightfall, one of the airports four runways was open.

A portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike reopened Sunday night after a motorist was hit and killed when he got out of his car following a minor accident on the highway. That accident set off a series of other accidents behind him that involved about 50 cars and shut down the Westbound lanes of the turnpike from Downingtown to Morgantown for seven hours. 

The turnpike crash was the only fatality reported amid a multitude of fender-benders caused as a storm brought much heavier than expected snow to the region.

Hazardous conditions caused multiple fender-benders shutting portions of I-95 in Philadelphia. Southbound lanes near 322 and 452 in Delaware County were shutdown for nearly five hours. On the Northbound side, an accident shut the highway down at Exit 20, the Columbus Blvd. exit. 

The Platt Bridge, which is a major artery to and from Philadelphia International Airport, closed down in both directions due to hazardous conditions at 1:15 p.m. The Eastbound lanes opened back up at 2 p.m. and then shut again until after the Eagles game, when both sides reopened.

And in Bensalem, Bucks County, police say fender benders brought traffic to a standstill on Street Road, which brought brought drivers out into the street:

A foot of snow was reported in Newark, Del. Philadelphia International Airport received 8.6 inches Sunday, more than it had all of last year. Other areas received far less: a little over an inch was reported in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, which usually is hit harder than downtown Philadelphia.

Road conditions were treacherous, despite PennDOT's preparations, which began on Saturday.

"We got the roads salted well for the transition," said Gene Blaum, spokesman for PennDOT. "The intensity is just so strong."

The snow moved in around 11:30 a.m. and about an hour before that, PennDOT deployed 300 trucks to treat the roadways. By early afternoon, the full fleet of 415 trucks were working the roads.

"It was supposed to be relatively light throughout the afternoon. This is a much heavier snowfall than what was predicted," said PennDOT spokesman Gene Blaum. Crews prepped the roads, beginning on Saturday and again mid-morning, preparing for a transition from light snowfall to freezing rain.

Crews were called to re-treat the roads around The Linc as people headed in to watch the Eagles take on the Detroit Lions for the early afternoon game at 1 p.m. in near white-out conditions. The weather proved to be too nasty for many fans who left early.

PennDOT's Metzger warned all the other fans who still had to make the drive home: 

"Take your time, slow down and you'll get there," said PennDOT's Charles Metzger who advised drivers who had to be on the road to "leave plenty of time and space between you and the person in front of you."

SEPTA warned riders to expect delays on all routes due to the weather. And New Jersey Transit says it is cross-honoring tickets due to the messy winter weather.

Cross-honoring will be in effect system-wide starting at 6 p.m. on Sunday and will continue through the end of the service day on Monday.

Customers can use any NJ Transit ticket or pass on rail, light rail or bus routes, including private bus carriers.

The agency says it is trying to minimize delays and ensure full service ahead of a winter storm that is forecast to intensify by Sunday afternoon.

Officials say customers should check NJ Transit's website for up-to-the-minute service information.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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