'Thundersnow' storm slams Northeast
Tuesday , February 18, 2014 - 9:53 AM
PHILADELPHIA — A quick-moving storm brought several inches of snow as well as rare “thundersnow” to parts of the winter-weary East Coast, prompting speed restrictions on Pennsylvania highways on Tuesday, days after the Southeast and Northeast were paralyzed with heavy snow, ice and massive power outages.
By midday, the National Weather Service said 6.5 inches of snow had been reported in Butler County, 6 inches in Lawrence County and more than 5 inches in Somerset County, all in western Pennsylvania, with 3 inches at Philadelphia International Airport.
The storm also brought “thundersnow,” an area of heavy snow with embedded thunder, from near downtown Pittsburgh to Dubois. Forecasters said moderate to heavy snow would follow with snowfall rates over 1 inch per hour.
The storm led Pennsylvania Turnpike officials to reduce speed limits to 45 mph along the entire 360-mile highway system. Speed limits were later lifted on most of the system except for the portion outside of Philadelphia where a series of crashes last week injured 30 people and left cars stranded for miles for hours. Transportation officials also imposed speed limits on some interstates and other roads.
Forecasters predicted many East Coast states would see 3 to 6 inches of snow on Tuesday after the storm moved in overnight from the Great Lakes and through the Mid-Atlantic. Some areas were getting rain, sleet or a snow-rain mixture as the storm moved up the coast.
“We’re looking at a relatively short duration event,” said the weather service’s John Cristantello.
Temperatures above freezing on Tuesday should move up to the 40s to mid-50s for the remainder of the week, he said, giving people a reprieve from shoveling and shivering.
Coastal areas in Maine and Massachusetts saw blizzard-like conditions with more than a foot of snow on Saturday, and thousands on Cape Cod were left without power. Maine was expected to get another 4 to 8 inches of snow on Tuesday. Boston was forecast get 1 to 3 inches but Worcester, located west of the capital, could get as much as 6 to 8 inches.
Many schools in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine canceled for the day or planned early dismissals.
On Monday, several inches of snow fell across the Great Lakes, causing Chicago’s two airports to cancel more than 1,000 flights. In Michigan, crashes closed portions of Interstate 96 in Grand Rapids and the Muskegon area saw whiteout conditions.
Last week, about 1.2 million utility customers lost power as the storm marched from the South through the Northeast. Schools, businesses and government offices closed. The storm was blamed for at least 25 deaths stretching from Texas to Maine.