York County bracing for nor'easter

Jason Addy
  • Forecasts show a foot of snowfall across York County on Tuesday.

Signs of winter this year have been few and far between, and many Yorkers do not seem to mind.

Unfortunately for them, winter weather will be front and center for much of this week, with York County residents set to dig out as meteorologists forecast up to 12 inches of snow to fall through Tuesday night.

Mimi Knaub, of West Manchester Township, said she has “high hopes” the recent warm weather means the snow will not stick around for more than a day or two.

Crocus flowers that bloomed a day earlier are covered by a  late winter snow, Friday, March 10, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo

Though some shoppers at local grocery stores were making their routine purchases, Heather Zinn, 22, of West Manchester Township, said she stopped by her nearby Weis Markets to pick up the “essentials for a storm” — milk, eggs and bread, among other items.

With spring less than two weeks away, Zinn said, she was starting to think the worst of winter might miss southcentral Pennsylvania.

“I thought we were in the clear,” she said.

Forecast: York County residents can expect to wake up Tuesday to substantial snowfall, said Dan Pydynowski, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather in State College.

The storm might start out with light snow Monday night, but by 1 a.m. Tuesday, the snowfall “will intensify pretty quickly,” with the heaviest snowfall lasting until around 7 a.m., Pydynowski said.

“By the time of the morning commute, everyone is probably already closing in on double-digit snowfall,” he said.

Pydynowski said he expects at least a foot of snow to fall across all of York County, and areas in the southeastern part of the county could get 18 inches.

The snowfall should be over for most of York County by 3 p.m. Tuesday, with only a few flurries lingering, Pydynowski said.

Snow emergencies, school closings in York County

Those hoping for sunshine and warmth to help clear away the snow will have to wait until the end of the week, Pydynowski said, with temperatures only reaching the low 30s on Wednesday and Thursday.

The snow is part of a powerful nor'easter that is expected to lay down snow from Washington, D.C., to Massachusetts, with northeastern states looking at up to two feet of snow. The nation’s capital is expected to get at least 6 inches, while forecasts for Boston show 18 inches of snow falling by Wednesday morning.

Closures: With forecasts calling for a foot or more of snow to fall in a 24-hour period, local government and school officials are suspending normal operations.

All offices operated by York County, including magisterial district courts and the York County Court Administration, will be closed Tuesday to allow crews to clear the facilities, though all essential personnel must still report to work, said county spokesman Mark Walters.

York City is one of almost a dozen municipalities in the county to declare a state of emergency because of the snowstorm.

City residents are required to remove their vehicles from snow emergency routes, but officials have opened up the Market, Philadelphia and King street garages for free parking for the duration of the state of emergency, according to a news release.

Rabbit Transit is offering free rides for residents who must move their vehicles to comply with the emergency parking restrictions, according to the release. Rabbit Transit’s paratransit/shared-ride and fixed-route services will not be in operation on Tuesday.

PIAA makes state schedule changes due to snowstorm

Free parking is also available at a number of lots in the city. Parking restrictions and accommodations can be found at www.yorkcity.org/alert/snow-emergency-declared/.

The boroughs of West York, Red Lion, Felton and Hanover, and the townships of East Hopewell, Windsor, York, Fairview and Spring Garden also have declared states of emergency.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a declaration of snow emergency, restricting speed limits on interstates and banning travel for some large commercial vehicles, buses, recreational vehicles and motorcycles, according to a state Department of Transportation news release.

Speed limits will be reduced to 45 mph on all interstates and expressways east of Interstate 99, which runs vertically through the center of the state, and PennDOT is shifting its workers and equipment from western locations to help with snow removal and cleanup, according to the release.

Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives have canceled sessions scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Brian Jetseck, of West York Borough, secures his new propane tanks in the back of his vehicle as Yorkers prepare for a winter storm at Lowe's in West Manchester Township, Monday, March 13, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Hospitals: York County hospitals and medical centers have preparation plans ahead of the storm.

“We start several days ahead of time when we know there’s a large weather event, especially snow," said WellSpan York Hospital Director of Emergency Management Chris Krichten. Preparations at WellSpan began Saturday, according to Krichten.

With the collective preparation, York Hospital has enough power in 12 generators, as well as food, bedding and other supplies to keep the hospital "sustainable" for 96 hours, Kritchten said.

While York Hospital will remain open, several WellSpan facilities are planning closures for Wednesday. For a full list of WellSpan closures, visit www.wellspan.org/weather.

Memorial Hospital has similar protocols in place regarding employee preparedness and overall staffing, according to hospital spokesman Jason McSherry.

"We’ve been monitoring and tracking the scenarios, but we will remain open 24 hours," McSherry said.

Several employees have volunteered to stay overnight to continue assisting patients.

"We've made sure that they can be here and do what they need to do to provide health care to our patients and to our community," he said.

An updated list of closures, cancellations and delays can be found on The York Dispatch homepage.