Philly declares a snow emergency but only a few inches dust the ground

Philadelphia declared a snow emergency and closed schools Thursday for what turned out to be just a few inches of snow that fell on the ground.

“The inches didn’t materialize, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it,” Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management executive director Samantha Phillips said Thursday afternoon. “We didn’t overreact. We prepare and respond based on the forecast that’s provided to us.”

About two inches of snow fell in Center City, with three to four inches in other parts of Philly.

That was significantly lower than previous forecasts by the National Weather Service. Six to eight inches was forecast on Wednesday night, with five to six still expected as of 5 a.m. Thursday. New York City, which did close its public schools Thursday, got up to 14 inches of snow in places. Boston also shut down the schools for the day, and snow totals there reached up to 18 inches in places.

Municipal offices in Philly remained open Thursday.Although by early afternoon many streets in Center City were clear, there were few cars or pedestrians to be seen as many people took advantage of the snow day.

“Based on the facts, I think we made the right call,” Phillips said. “It never hurts to prepare and put the equipment out there.”

The city did marshal significant resources from the Streets Department to cope with the snow that did fall Wednesday night. Approximately 410 pieces of equipment and 800 employees worked on snow operations, and nearly 8,000 tons of salt was used, according to the city.

Crews began salting streets as 6 a.m. Thursday, and plowing at 9 a.m.

That response may have lessened the impact of the storm, officials said. The Streets Department said 75 percent of all primary and secondary streets and 30 percent of residential streets were serviced by noon.

“City operations were very smooth this morning,” the city said in a statement Thursday on the snow response. “There was lower than normal call volume at both Police 911 and Fire Communications Center and no major incidents.”

A wind advisory remained in effect in the region and motorists were advised to look out for black ice after the storm.

“We ask for patience as crews wrap up snow operations, and as sanitation collections resume on normal schedule,” Mike Carroll, deputy managing director for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, said in a statement. “After the storm ends, crews will remain on duty to monitor road conditions and respond to service requests of impassable streets or icy conditions.”

Trash pickup is expected to take place Friday as scheduled, including for rear driveway pickups.

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