Philadelphia: Traffic Signals Freezing Up In the Cold

A major snowstorm rolled across the northeastern United States, shut down state and federal governments, closed schools and snarled air travel in its path.

Winter storm warnings and advisories were in place from the central Appalachian Mountains north to southern New England, the National Weather Service said, including all of the Middle Atlantic states and the busy I-95 highway corridor that connects cities like Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, according to the media.

Temperatures were set to fall below normal, to as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 Celsius) with winds gusting to 35 miles (56 kilometers) per hour last night.

Nearly 2,300 flights in the United States had been cancelled, according to FlightAware, a tracking service. The worst-affected airports were Philadelphia International and New York’s LaGuardia.

Forecaster AccuWeather said the cold front would drop temperatures below freezing as far south as northern Florida.

There was up to 10 inches (30 cm) of snow in Philadelphia, with wind chills in the Poconos mountains dipping down to -4 Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius), according to local CBS News station KYW-TV.

Mayor of Philadelphia Nutter declared Snow Emergency. “This is a very serious storm. The combination of the amount of snowfall, combined with plummeting temperatures and high winds, makes this a very dangerous storm,” Nutter said.

On Wednesday, he said the city’s snow emergency will be lifted as of 6 p.m., and that the nonessential portions of city government that were closed Wednesday will be open Thursday.

The mayor says the immediate goal of snow-plowing crews is to make about 80 percent of city streets at least “passable” by Thursday morning, ,according to CBS News.

The biggest problem facing the crews, of course, is the extreme cold, which inhibits the effectiveness of road salt.

Nutter expects the full cleanup will go into the weekend.

“This will be a marathon cleanup effort that will stretch more than likely into Saturday before we consider our work done,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do.”

Another issue facing the city, is traffic signals freezing up in the cold,  according to Nutter.

“We still have a somewhat old traffic signal network. And when you’re at zero and two degrees, you will experience some failures.”

Snow Emergency information and a map of Snow Emergency routes can be found at www.philadelphiastreets.com, click on Transportation, Highways, and then Snow. Cars left on Snow Emergency routes will be relocated to accommodate plowing operations. If you car is relocated, call 215-686-SNOW to find it.

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