Deep freeze imminent for Philly

City agencies announced extra precautions across Philly Wednesday as forecasts of extreme weather conditions only intensified as the so-called “bombogenesis” or bomb cyclone pressure system is expected to wreak havoc across the East Coast.

Temperatures are forecast to hit a low of 8 degrees on Thursday, 5 on Friday and 2 on Saturday, before temps are expected to rise up to the 20s again.

Some three to five inches of snow is expected to cover Philly on Thursday, starting in the morning and falling into the early afternoon.

Philadelphia officials were taking precautions Wednesday to prepare for the coming storm.

Philly street plowing

The Streets Department has 85 pieces of equipment ready to disperse some 40,000 tons of salt around the city, ready to hit “primary and secondary roads, bridge decks and streets in higher elevations,” the department said. 

The morning commute is expected to be affected by the storm. But the scale of the department’s response won’t be determined until the snowfall begins in earnest, and city employees will not start salting until snow starts falling, as part of a Streets Department strategy, officials said. 

“Salting is more effective than plowing when low snow accumulations and temperatures are expected,” the Streets Department said. “Plowing can leave behind a sheet of ice. In these conditions, salt mixed into the snow by traffic allows the accumulation to become a ‘crunchy’ snow, which allows for slush to develop providing traction, and a safer road surface than a sheet of ice.”

Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams urged the public to get shovels and salt, salt sidewalks early, to remember to shovel a three-foot-wide path within six hours of the end of the storm, and don’t shovel snow into the street.

Snow’s impact on SEPTA

SEPTA crews are bracing for the bomb cyclone by preparing to keep operations “normal, or as close as possible,” they said, for the approximately 190,000 people who ride the Market-Frankford Line and 125,000 who ride the Broad Street line daily. 

One tactic SEPTA will deploy to meet this goal includes the practice of storing cars for those modes of transit inside subway tunnels to keep them warmer.

“Train cars for both the Broad Street Line subway and the Market-Frankford Line (subway/elevated) will be stored in subway tunnels overnight to keep the rail cars warmer than they would be if stored at rail yards on a normal night,” SEPTA said. “Regular service on these two key lines starts at approximately 5 a.m., and by storing the rail cars in the tunnels, SEPTA is in the best position possible to roll out service for customers on the morning commute.”

SEPTA will also give special inspections to aged structures, viaducts, heavily skewed steel bridges tunnels and stations that may have water leaks, they said.

Trolleys and Regional Rail train cars will be traveling under speed restrictions. 

To get updates, visit SEPTA system status online or call 215-580-7800. 

Keeping Philly’s homeless population safe

Philly is also on Code Blue until further notice, meaning additional homeless patrols will be deployed and homeless people can remain indoors for as long as a Code Blue is in effect.

An extra 500 beds have been opened around city shelters to accommodate additional needs. 

The public is asked to alert the city about people who appear exposed to the elements by calling 215-232-1984.

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