HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The icy conditions have knocked out power to tens of thousands of electric customers in southeastern Pennsylvania and prompted school and legislative delays as well as speed reductions on major roadways.
PECO reported more than 100,000 customers without power early Wednesday in the five-county Philadelphia region, most of them in suburban counties.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike ordered speed limits reduced to 45 mph and has banned empty tractor-trailers until further notice.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation also dropped speed limits to 45 mph on a number of roads including Interstates 76, 95, 476, 676 in southeastern Pennsylvania and I-78, I-176, I-81 and I-80 in eastern Pennsylvania and many smaller roads.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Administration is reporting delays and some cancellations on suburban Philadelphia routes.
Philadelphia International Airport reported about 50 cancelled flights early Wednesday but planned normal operations with all four runways open.
The Cheltenham School District in Montgomery County announced that classes had been canceled Wednesday. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced a one-hour delay for Catholic high school and elementary schools; Saint Anthony of Padua Regional School will be closed.
The Pennsylvania House will be on a two-hour delay while the Pennsylvania Senate and offices under the Governor's jurisdiction were on a three-hour delay, while almost all committee hearings were canceled.
Pittsburgh and surrounding areas were dealing with about three inches of snow, topped by ice created by freezing rains that began falling before dawn. Most roads were plowed and passable, though black ice was a consideration in spots as the freezing drizzle continued in spots as the morning rush hour began.
Though some western school districts canceled classes, most that issued weather alerts were opting instead for two-hour delays, including Pittsburgh Public Schools.
The transportation department issued weather related speed limits of 45 mph on parts of Interstates 79 and 80 where the ice was most severe. There were no immediate reports of major power outages or accidents.
Forecasters earlier said the state's remote northern tier could see its deepest snowfall of the season, while the vast and populous eastern region south of Interstate 80 was in line for ice, sleet or snow.
"It's not an easy forecast by any means — a little bit of everything for everybody, it seems like," said meteorologist John LaCorte with the National Weather Service in State College. "About the only thing we probably won't have is locusts."
Greg Penny, a spokesman for the PennDOT region around Harrisburg, said authorities expected "trees down, entangled with power lines" to make traffic a mess.
"It's going to be a messy commute, there's no way around that," he said.