Philly expecting first snow of the season; PennDOT advises caution

Dan Wing
November 15, 2018 - 8:20 am
PennDOT preparation

John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Delaware Valley is gearing up for it's first snow storm of the season. A winter weather advisory is in effect in the Philadelphia area Thursday from 1 a.m. to 3 p.m. According to CBS 3, snow will start around 10 or 11 a.m., and we can expect sleet and freezing rain to add to the mix by midday, changing to rain, with a high of 39 degrees.

Snow and sleet may accumulate of a coating to 2 to 3 inches in the north and west of the region.

Eyes on the roads

The KYW Storm Center is not expecting the biggest snow storm, but it could be enough to cause some major headaches for drivers. 

PennDOT says it will have all available equipment ready to roll out as needed throughout Thursday's storm, which looks to close in on our area a little after the morning rush. PennDOT's Brad Rudolph says what makes it tricky is the timing.

"It's going to be coming during the morning commute when traffic volumes are higher. There's more people on the roadways, more chances for incidents. The less people on the roadways, the better chance we have to do our jobs," Rudolph said.

With that in mind, Rudolph asks anyone who doesn't have to travel during the storm to just stay home. But the roads should be in decent shape for the most part, as salt and brine prep has been done, and plows will move in if the snow starts to pile up. 

On top of that, road temperatures are still pretty warm, meaning it will take a while for this snow to stick and even longer before icy conditions become a major concern. 

One thing more: Drivers are asked to keep their distance from plow crews at work, and to never try to pass them while they are clearing the roads. 

"We ask the motorists to stay out of our way. Give our guys plenty of space to operate. They have a very big, important job to do," Rudolph said.

Watch the caterpillars

Many people in the Delaware Valley are not particularly worried about the coming snow, even if it's hitting before Thanksgiving. They say it just comes with the territory. 

“Some years we’ve had it in October. Sometimes as late as April,” said Ben Spady who took an early morning train Thursday to get to work at the airport. “We live here, we know we have a four season type of climate here.”

A winter weather advisory is in effect in the Philadelphia area Thursday from 1 a.m. to 3 p.m. A mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain is expected to hit by midday, changing to rain. Snow and sleet may accumulate of a coating to 2 to 3 inches.

Al Kline from Huntingdon Valley said this is his favorite time of year.

“I love it because I plow snow. So, when you plow snow you love it. It is what they call 'raining money!'” he said. 

Nikki Kastanos, whose family owns the Miss Philly Grill in Huntingdon Valley, says she also loves winter, but businesses can really take a real hit when meteorologists call for a winter weather advisory. 

"People want to hurry up out to the market, get home," he said. "They don’t want to be driving and something happens."

Is this pre-Thanksgiving snow a sign of things to come? Joan from Glenside doesn’t think so — because of an old legend.

"I’ve been looking at the little catepillars," she said. "The Old Farmer’s Almanac says that if they’ve got a lot of black, I think that’s supposed to be a big winter. They seem to be brown, so I’m optimistic that it will not be bad."

wooly bear caterpillar
Pictureguy66 | Dreamstime.com

The woolly bear caterpillar has 13 distinct segments that are either rusty brown or black. According to legend, as explained in the The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the more brown the caterpillar, the milder the winter. If it is more black then winter will be worse.

So, maybe if you need some optimisim on this dreary day, you can always look to the caterpillar.

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KYW Newsradio's Tim Jimenez contributed to this report.