York County residents stay home to enjoy snowstorm
Employees at the York County Office of Emergency Management might have been expecting a long day Tuesday as winter storm Stella moved in but they ended up going home early.
“It’s been that quiet,” Mark Walters, communications director for York County, said late Tuesday afternoon.
Walters said a deputy director spent the night on a cot in the office to ensure the county could respond to any emergency during the storm, and the office was ready to run beyond 5 p.m.
Instead, even though much of York County was expected to receive a foot of snow or more, Office of Emergency Management employees went home at 3 p.m., Walters said.
Along with state and local officials, county workers implored people to stay off the roads. And it seems to have worked, Walters said.
Wolf thanks Pennsylvanians: While speaking Tuesday afternoon about the nor’easter that dropped snow on much of the eastern half of the state, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf thanked residents for staying home to give workers at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation time and space to clear highways and roads.
PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said about 4,800 crew members worked around the clock Tuesday to keep roadways clear, while Wolf said 600 to 900 members of the National Guard were activated to help during winter storm Stella.
Speed limits on numerous state highways were reduced to 45 mph during the storm, while PennDOT also issued a travel ban on tandem truck trailers, towed trailers, empty trailers, buses and recreational vehicles on a number of major highways such as Interstate 83.
Richards said that there had been no major accidents or road closures thanks to commonwealth residents staying off the roads if they were able to.
Several local state representatives also said they were pleased most people stayed off the roads Tuesday, but Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Red Lion, said he was still worried about the potential for power outages across the county through Tuesday night.
Power outages: Two electrical power outages, affecting about 800 customers, were reported in York County during Tuesday’s storm. Both outages were in Manchester Township along the Susquehanna Trail, according to Met-Ed spokesman Scott Surgeoner.
About 526 customers were without power on the Susquehanna Trail at Village Way, and another outage further north on the Susquehanna Trail near Sinking Springs Elementary School affected more than 250 customers, according to Surgeoner.
Central York School District, along with every school district in York County, was closed Tuesday in anticipation of the storm.
All offices operated by York County, including magisterial district judges and the York County Judicial Center, also were closed Tuesday.
Forecast: Though the snow came to an end Tuesday afternoon, Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather in State College, said the the weather will remain “blustery,” and temperatures will stay below freezing for the next few days.
Temperatures Tuesday night were expected to be in the teens, Kines said, while Wednesday’s temperatures will only reach the upper 20s. But York County residents can expect sun Thursday and Friday, Kines said.
Toward the end of the week, temperatures could climb close to 40 degrees, with the sunshine helping to melt some of Tuesday’s snowfall, Kines said.
There have been reports of a new snow system later this week, but York County will likely be out of its range.
“It’s a system that will spare most of Pennsylvania,” Kines said. Instead, he said, the storm will hit New York and New England.
Although Kines said he doesn’t expect any strong storms to come in the next week, he does expect the county to be “on the chilly side” over the next several days.
“I think we’re going to be hard-pressed to find a few days of good weather” over the next calendar week, Kines said.
Overall, Kines said it has been a mild winter in the county, citing average temperatures 2 degrees above normal for the season.
Although it might feel like winter, the first day of spring arrives Monday, and Kines said a mild spring also is in play.
“It looks like it’s going to be above normal for April, May and even into June,” he said. He said a jet stream is going to be “well south” of us in the near term but might push back north, bringing and possibly keeping warmer air in the northeast.
Kines recalled the above-average temperatures last month, which was the warmest February on record.
“It’s kind of payback for the nice weather we had in February,” he said.
Businesses: Most businesses in downtown York were closed Tuesday morning as owners and residents worked to clear sidewalks, but York City Pretzel Co., Rite Aid and i-ron-ic remained open.
Phillip Given, owner of York City Pretzel Co., said he and his baker both live nearby, so it wasn't a big issue to get the shop open, and he considers it a community service because many people in the neighborhood don't have easy access to a grocery store.
Given, who also kept the store open during Winter Storm Jonas last year, actually opened two hours earlier than normal because he figured people would want coffee. He offered free coffee to all city employees, firefighters and EMTs, he said.
Elsewhere in York City, 18-year-old Jared Zimmerman was using a snowblower to clear the sidewalks outside his father's chiropractic business, at the corner of Linden and Roosevelt avenues.
The York Catholic senior, who also is enlisted in the National Guard, said he had been working for about an hour and expected to be working a few more hours to clear all the snow.
Zimmerman said he had to get it done, though, because he knows his dad's practice tends to get busy after a big snowstorm, as people often injure their backs shoveling.
— York Dispatch staff writers Jason Addy, Junior Gonzalez, Alyssa Pressler and David Weismann contributed to this report.