Stella’s hail and sleet give Philly a wintry blast

The thick, wet snow that coated Philadelphia Tuesday morning after a night of frozen rain and the declaration of a snow emergency gave residents a nice excuse for a lazy day.

Few cars or people ventured out for much of the morning into the day on Tuesday, as Winter Storm Stella stuck around. Those who did were met with hail and sleet whipped around by powerful wind gusts topping out at up to 50 mph.

All told around 5 to 7 inches of snow fell on the city.

Municipal office openings were delayed until 10 a.m., but schools were closed.

SEPTA trains remained fully operational but the majority of SEPTA bus lines were suspended early Tuesday morning as hail and sleet fell, causing severe transportation issues. Many of the routes remained suspended or detoured, and riders were urged to visit SEPTA’s website to check for service updates.

“It happened very quickly that all of a sudden a lot of buses started to get stuck,” SEPTA general manager Jeffrey Knueppel said at an early afternoon press conference on Tuesday.

Depending on how long storm recovery takes, it might not be possible to bring all bus routes back to full service and without detours by Wednesday, he said.

“The weather and related service impacts will continue to evolve,” he said.

Philadelphia lifted its snow emergency at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, and announced schools would reopen on Wednesday. Regular trash collection would also resume.

The wind and freezing rain knocked out power to thousands in Philly. PECO reported up to 3,500 customers were without service Tuesday morning. By early evening, a few hundred were still without power.

The storm dropped about as much snow as predicted, with 7 inches reported in Center City, and closer to 5 inches recorded around outer parts of the city. Last month, Mayor Jim Kenney closed schools in preparation for an expected snowstorm that never appeared. The Feb. 10 storm wound up with just a few incheson the ground.

Tuesday was different, as Stella delivered snow, sleet and strong winds throughout much of the Northeast. About 50 million people were affected by the storm and airlines canceled more than 6,000 flights.

Other parts of Pennsylvania were not spared, with Mount Pocono getting 24 inches of snow.

While the storm was expected to move on by Tuesday night, that didn’t mean Philly’s snow problems will be completely solved.

Freezing temperatures are expected through the next few days. Wednesday should see more snow showers later in the day, with a high of 29 degrees, dipping down to 19 at night.

“There will remain some blowing and drifting snow overnight, and as temperatures drop this evening and overnight, untreated surfaces that have slushy conditions will likely refreeze,” the National Weather Service Mount Holly station said on Tuesday.

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