Jack Frost still held Philadelphia in his icy grip on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but relief from the frigid temps in the form of a thaw is on the way soon.
After a brutal weekend courtesy of Winter Storm Harper, with western Pa. and the Lehigh Valley hit hardest by snowfall, frigid winds and arctic temperatures, the Philadelphia area was still freezing on Monday.
With combined temps in the teens and powerful gusts of wind bringing substantial wind chill to the land of William Penn, forecasters put the Philadelphia area temperature’s as feeling like single digits or below all day long.
On Monday morning at the Philadelphia International Airport, temps felt like negative 10 degrees. (Negative 35 degrees at Mt. Pocono, according to the National Weather Service.) A wind chill advisory is in effect until 1 p.m.
Gov. Tom Wolf declared an emergency last Friday, and banned all commercial traffic – including buses – from interstate highways over the weekend. A temporary 45 MPH speed limit was put in place on most interstates as well. Those restrictions were lifted by Monday as the storm eased off.
City government offices were closed for MLK Day on Monday, with courts, prisons, City Hall, libraries and other municipal locations all closed for the day. Trash pick-up is also delayed one day this week due to the holiday.
The storm’s impact on roads and public transit was still felt Monday, as well. Service on the Paoli-Thorndale Regional Rail line was altered and experiencing delays of up to 30 minutes (visit SEPTA.org for the latest updates), the Cynwyd line was suspended due to Amtrak switch problems, the Norristown High Speed Line was experiencing delays up to 20 minutes and the Market-Frankford line ended A-B service, instead making all stops all day. All trolley lines were reporting delays due to tunnel delays due to equipment problems near 33rd Street station.
But thousands were still in the Philadelphia region for MLK Day of Service volunteer events and other ceremonies honoring the legacy of America’s greatest civil rights leader, some of which had to be moved inside due to the weather conditions.
End to icy mess?
No relief is in sight until around 9 a.m. Tuesday. But that’s when Mr. Sun is scheduled to make his big return, and temps will begin to rise again.
Over the course of the day on Tuesday, forecasters predict a rise in temperature from around 15 degrees to the 25-30 degree range.
If you haven’t had enough of wildly swinging temperatures, you’re in luck: forecasters predict a rise in temps to the 40s and 50s on Wednesday and Thursday, set to be accompanied by heavy rainfall.
But by Friday and the weekend, temps will be back to the 30s, with snow and showers expected, and the long-term forecast says things will cold-to-freezing for the rest of the month.
We’ll see what else ‘ole Jack Frost has in store us, but one thing is for sure, he is not done yet. Don’t forget that the most brutal winter storm of 2019 for Philadelphia came smack dab at the beginning of last March.