York County snow removal hindered by freezing rain

Greg Gross

As each day passes, progress is being made on the Herculean task of cleaning up the mess left in York County by the massive weekend winter storm.

But Mother Nature has issued setbacks.

An early Tuesday morning shower of freezing rain coated roads throughout the county and pulled plow crews away from their clearing efforts, forcing them to instead lay salt and other deicing material, state and municipal officials said.

"That didn't help the matter," said Kelly Kelch, manager of West Manchester Township.

Michael Martin, the state Department of Transportation's York County maintenance manager, called the freezing rain a worst-case scenario, since it came all at once just before the morning rush hour.

Mayor: Workers making progress on snow

Crews, he said, couldn't be everywhere in the county at once, making for a slippery drive to work for motorists.

What's ahead: PennDOT crews will continue their efforts to widen paths on the highways, clear out intersections and open drains so snow melt has a place to go, Martin said.

"We're looking at possible rain Thursday, so we need to get the drains opened," he said.

With nightly freezes anticipated throughout the week and beyond, crews will likely have to again deal with spreading deicing material in the mornings.

The crews were also tasked with opening state-owned roads that remained closed in the aftermath of the storm.

Seven roads in the southern end of the county, four of which are in East Hopewell Township, were closed by Saturday's snow. Crews opened the last closed road Tuesday morning, Martin said.

County: At the county level, officials are in recovery mode after tireless hours of work since the storm started Friday evening, said county spokesman Carl Lindquist.

The county continues to serve as a conduit for municipalities seeking much-needed resources from the state and other municipalities.

During the storm, the county helped fulfill a request from Southern York Emergency Medical Services for the Pennsylvania National Guard to assist in responding to emergency calls, Lindquist noted.

Two Humvees and two Humvee ambulances and eight personnel were stationed with medics early Sunday morning.

The county also had a hand in getting additional resources to hard hit York City. Hellam Township loaned a front-end loader it wasn't using to the city to help clear streets and remove snow.

"We try to assist and to help municipalities any way we can," Lindquist said. "You get municipalities sharing equipment."

County offices and the courts are expected to reopen Wednesday after being closed Monday and Tuesday because of the storm.

Cost: The winter storm, which dumped upwards of 31.5 inches of snow on parts of the county, will undoubtedly take financial toll on municipal budgets.

The exact cost is not yet known, municipal officials said, but some are expecting a high price tag. York City officials project the cleanup costs to top six figures.

Kelch said West Manchester Township filed snow and disaster declarations in hopes of receiving some grant money to recoup the costs.

The largest costs for the township are for overtime and equipment rentals.

Manchester Township also expects a high overtime cost, said Manager Tim James, adding the exact cost hasn't yet been tallied.

"It's going to be a pretty big overtime cost for us," he said. "It (the storm) was a high labor intensive event."

Schools: The following districts will open Wednesday after a two-hour delay:

  • Dallastown Area School District 
  • Eastern York School District
  • Hanover Public School District
  • Northern York School District
  • South Eastern School District (Administrative offices will open on time)
  • South Western School District
  • Southern York County School District
  • Spring Grove Area School District
  • York Suburban School District

The following districts will be closed on Wednesday:

  • Central York School District (Administrative offices will be open after a two-hour delay)
  • Dover Area School District
  • Northeastern School District (Administrative offices will open on time)
  • Red Lion Area School District (Administrative offices will open after a two-hour delay)
  • West Shore School District
  • West York Area School District
  • York City School District
  • York County School of Technology (Administrative offices will open at 10 a.m.)

In addition to the districts, the following schools will be closed Wednesday:

  • York Catholic High School
  • York County School of Technology

York Country Day School will be opening at 10 a.m.

— Reach Greg Gross at