winter weather

Winners & Losers of Philadelphia’s Snowless Winter

Not even half an inch of snow has fallen in Philly so far, along with underwhelming totals in the suburbs and Poconos

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Philadelphia’s mild winter marches forward, with the usual sight of rain, not snow, falling.

The official snow total of 0.3 inches in the city would make this winter the second-least snowiest on record. Normally, about 18 inches of snow would have fallen in Philadelphia by now.

"It’s definitely been weird," said Lauren Schlegel as she walked her dog in Fairmount Park one sunny morning last week. "I don’t know if I hate it."

Schlegel and others who aren't that into snow have had a good few months. But many in eastern Pennsylvania who rely on winter, or who generally enjoy snow a few times a year, haven't.

Winners

Pennsylvania taxpayers: With three weeks of winter remaining, The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has spent only 41% of its annual winter budget ($29,577,000). Meanwhile, PennDOT's salt reserves for highways remain sky high.

Golfers: Courses across the region have seen many more playable days, as the weather has included unusually warm periods in addition to the glut of storms.

Drivers: PennDOT says if this snowless trend continues, the savings from not having to salt and clear roads could translate into savings for next year’s budget and might allow more road repairs this spring. Fewer potholes this spring are expected thanks to limited freeze/thaw cycles.

Construction companies: Outdoor work on building projects has gone ahead unimpeded. And it's even been a mixed blessing for landscapers like Mike Dowling, of Allscapes Landscaping in Broomall, Delaware County. Dowling says he has focused on construction that would not have been possible if it were colder and snowier. "At this point, the ground is soft and workable, so we’ve begun installing patios, walkways and retaining walls," he said.

Losers

State workers: PennDOT's plow and salt truck drivers normally load up on overtime pay, particularly during storms that hit overnight and on weekends. Not this year.

Ski resorts: Less snow obviously means fewer great days for the slopes in the Lehigh Valley. It also incurs higher costs for mountains that are able to make snow, and less trails open for those with without snow-making ability.

School kids, other government workers and private sector employees: Climate change is having an unintended consequence for the region's students and workforce — the disappearance of the "snow day." Who among us doesn't look forward to those two or three (or four) days a year when the region is shut down by a snowstorm?

Private contractors: Many companies expect snowstorms to pay the bills during the winter months. But this year, there are no driveways to plow, and no shovels and bags of salt to sell.

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