A storm that passed through the area on Tuesday didn’t deliver the little wallop forecasters predicted, but the weather still managed to cause delays and could bring some other problems with it over the next several days.
“We had a couple of impulses that came through but they weren’t as strong as we thought they would be. We had predicted up to 3 or 4 inches but we only got 1 or 2 out of it,” said WNEP-TV Chief Meteorologist Tom Clark.
“It did sort of break apart and wasn’t as well organized as we were thinking it would be,” Clark said of the storm, “so it didn’t pack quite the punch in the first round of snow early in the morning.”
Still, the morning snow was enough to cause most school districts in Luzerne County to operate on two-hour delays. A few closed altogether. Buses of the Luzerne County Transportation Authority operated on snow routes all day, and a number of County of Lackawanna Transit System buses also operated on snow routes.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission early Tuesday morning announced speed restrictions of 45 miles per hour on area interstates and part of the Northeastern Extension of the turnpike. Speed restrictions on Interstate 80 and the turnpike were lifted before 2 p.m.
And even with all the snow we’ve seen this month, it’s still not the snowiest February on record, Clark said, although it’s getting close. The record for February snowfall is 27.9 inches, which fell in 1914, followed by 27.1 inches in 2010.
As of Tuesday, 26.4 inches of snow had fallen in the news station’s back yard — an official measuring station for the National Weather Service — since Feb. 1 this year, Clark said.
Of course, it’s still nine more days ‘til the end of the month.
Warm-up on the way
Clark said we could see a little rain, sleet and freezing rain this morning, the National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory for 7 a.m. to noon today.
But it’s going to be getting warmer over the next few days, with Friday bringing a high temperature in the low to mid 50s. Then, it will get cold again over the weekend and into next week, which actually is a good thing, Clark said.
“We don’t want any excessive warm-up, which could cause major flooding issues,” Clark said.
And while warmer days and below-freezing nights over the weekend will “start to slow down the melting cycle,” it likely also will add up to some localized flooding of roadways, or at least pooling of water, which would then turn into ice on streets and sidewalks overnight, he said.
To prevent flooding and icing over of roads and walkways, Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority Executive Director Chris Belleman recommends that municipal employees concentrate on removing snow banks from storm drains.
“With all the snow we’ve had, it’s plowed directly over storm drain grates, which won’t allow storm water and snow melt to drain away, which could cause ponding and freezing overnight. Ideally, municipalities should try to remove packed snow from on top of the grates,” Belleman said.
Ice melt hard to find
Hazleton Mayor Joe Yannuzzi said his Department of Public Works employees worked over last weekend and through Presidents Day on Monday hauling away snow from heavily traveled streets to make them wider and from corners so school buses could make turns. And the majority of storm drains are on street corners, he said.
“We had 26 inches and with (Tuesday’s), we have about 28. We’re having a heck of a time finding places to put it. You can only push it so much. It’s getting very difficult. … They’ve done a great job, but it’s killing us financially,” Yannuzzi said.
Fortunately, while some other municipalities are having a difficult time finding road salt to purchase, “we’re not in real bad shape because we had some left over from last year and we ordered the same amount. If it stays this warm, we’ll be OK,” Yannuzzi said.
Area residents are having a difficult time finding ice melt to throw down on their sidewalks and driveways. Associates at Kmart and Lowes Home Improvement Center in Wilkes-Barre Township and The Home Depot in Wilkes-Barre said Tuesday night that they were sold out of ice melt. An associate at the Wilkes-Barre Township Walmart said the store still had some in stock.
Storms impacting elderly
And while the storms, banks of snow and icy walks make driving and traveling difficult for able-bodied folks, it especially makes things hard on people with disabilities and the elderly, said Karla Porter, program director at The Arc of Luzerne County.
Many working age adults in the agency’s Transition to Community Employment program rely on the Luzerne County Transportation Authority’s Shared Ride Program to get to classes. And with the compressed schedules and snow route-only service, many have been missing classes.
For people in wheelchairs and those with ambulation problems, getting around is extra difficult, Porter said.
“If you have a neighbor who is elderly or has difficulty getting around, help them with snow removal, throw some salt down for them,” Porter said. “We all have to watch out for one another in a community.”
Times Leader staff writer Travis Kellar contributed to this report.