Last update: Friday at 4:17 p.m. Municipalities, school districts, transit agencies, commercial businesses, and local residents all are affected by a winter storm that arrived early Friday morning (Jan. 19, 2024) and is expected to end Friday by 6 p.m. This Travels With The Post journal is tracking storm-related news and notices of public interest, and is being updated periodically.
Storm-Related Traffic Restrictions Removed Across Region
KING OF PRUSSIA PA – “All speed limit restrictions that were in place on all interstates and major highways across the Philadelphia region during the latest winter storm” have been rescinded, the District 6 office of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reported by e-mail Friday at 4:17 p.m.
Interstate Travel Restrictions Lifted in Berks County
Friday, 2:23 p.m.
ALLENTOWN PA – Interstate travel restrictions set Thursday by officials of PennDOT’s District 5, which includes Berks County, were lifted Friday at 1:45 p.m., they reported.
Vehicle restrictions on commercial and some passenger traffic had been implemented, and speed limits reduced to 45 mph, on many interstates and several other routes in east central PA, the state noted. They included Interstates 78 and 176 across portions of Berks. All vehicle restrictions have now been lifted, and speeds restored to their usual posted limits.
PennDOT said it is continuing to treat roadways in the area, and will continue until roads are clear.
What’s It Like Now in Greater Pottstown?
Friday, 1:58 p.m.
LIMERICK PA – Over at Heritage Field Airport on Ridge Pike, formerly known as Pottstown Limerick Airport, weather conditions as of 12:44 p.m. (the most recent update available) consisted of “snow and freezing fog,” according to the National Weather Service regional office.
Winds blew from the north at a speed of only 5 miles an hour. With the recorded temperature at 28 degrees Fahrenheit, however, the resulting wind chill made it feel like only 22 degrees. Things will get chillier still, the weather service noted: the low temperature Friday night into Saturday morning is expected to drop to just 13 degrees.
Visibility at the airport was estimated at a half-mile.
A hazardous weather outlook and winter weather advisory, both issued Thursday night by the weather service and later updated with few changes, remain in place.
Slow Down! Speeds Reduced on U.S. Route 422
Friday, 9:42 a.m.
KING OF PRUSSIA PA – Traffic speed limits on U.S. Route 422 have been temporarily reduced to 45 miles per hour, the District 6 office of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation proclaimed in a 9:32 a.m. e-mail. It said the safety measure was “due to the severity of the winter storm.”
U.S. Route 1, and state Routes 63 and 309 were similarly affected.
Commercial vehicles must stay in the right lane while the speed restriction is in place, PennDOT noted. It added that “speed limits will be reduced on other roads as conditions warrant.”
Local Closures and Cancellations List No. 1
Friday, 9:29 a.m. and 10:57 a.m.
Several facilities have reported – on social media outlets, their websites, or both – closures and cancellations. They include:
- Playcrafters of Skippack had hoped to publicly introduce its upcoming season Friday, but canceled the preview due to weather conditions. It said it may issue a video for the same purpose in the near future.
- Community Music School closed its building in Trappe on Friday because of the weather, but students and instructors are meeting virtually for scheduled lessons.
- The Friday performance of “Godspell Jr.” at Steel River Playhouse was canceled due to the weather, and rescheduled for Saturday as the second of two shows. Ticket-holders were notified.
- Pottstown Regional Public Library, closed Friday due to the weather, although its online services are available. It usually scheduled Friday programs are canceled, it added;
- The Ricketts Center is closed Friday. Its afternoon and evening classes are canceled. Its family bag distribution for this week will not be held.
- A flexible instruction day is in effect for the Pottstown School District. In such cases students and staff attend virtually, on schedules often set by individual school buildings. District employees are generally expected to complete their jobs virtually as well.
- Classes in the Pottsgrove School District are canceled Friday, and its buildings closed. All after-school activities are canceled. The closure will affect Monday (Jan. 22), the final day of mid-term exams; it will be a regular, full day of school. Additionally, the federal President’s Day holiday also will become a regular school day.
- A flexible instruction day is in effect for the Boyertown Area School District “due to the weather forecast, predicted event timing, and the arctic temperatures.” Secondary student assignments will be available on Google Classroom. Elementary students will complete assignments from their digital or paper choice boards. All Friday after-school activities are canceled.
Berks County Interstate Restrictions Confirmed
Friday, 7:48 a.m.
ALLENTOWN PA – Vehicle travel restrictions on portions of interstate highways within Berks County were confirmed and updated Friday at 7:48 a.m. by the Allentown-based District 5 office of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
It said restrictions primarily affecting commercial traffic, passenger vehicles hauling trailers, buses, and motorcycles remain in place on Interstates 78 and 176. Although not affecting our area, it also noted that farther north in Schuylkill County, speeds on Interstate 81 have been reduced to 45 miles per hour.
Code Blue Alert Extended through Tuesday
Friday, 7:28 a.m.
POTTSTOWN PA – Weather forecasters covering the greater Pottstown area report the actual outside temperature as of this writing is 26 degrees Fahrenheit. It could get colder as the day progresses. Consequently, Montgomery County’s Board of Commissioners have extended their Code Blue cold weather emergency declaration.
The county enables a Code Blue alert when winter conditions “pose a threat of serious harm or death to individuals without shelter.” The standard: either the temperature, or the wind chill, is expected to be below 32 degrees. The current Code Blue alert began Thursday (Jan. 18), and lasts until Tuesday (Jan. 23).
County residents who need emergency shelter during a Code Blue can call the Your Way Home Call Center at 2-1-1, or text their zip code to 898-211. Residents who need assistance with housing can contact 610-278-3522 for direct, local support through the county Department of Health and Human Services.
Responders Dispatched to Pottstown, Springfield, Norristown
Friday, 6:59 a.m.
EAGLEVILLE PA – As of this writing, an emergency medical services team has been sent to the area of Jefferson and Hale streets in Pottstown to deal with what is described as a “fracture,” according to Montgomery County dispatchers. Other EMS incidents were reported in Springfield, for a respiratory emergency, and in Norristown, for abdominal pains.
Elsewhere, a vehicle accident is reported on the Schuylkill Expressway at the North Gulph Road ramp to Interstate 76 in Upper Merion Township.
Forecast: Expect ‘Significant Travel Disruptions’
Thursday, 10:43 p.m.
MOUNT HOLLY NJ – A hazardous weather outlook has been declared for western Montgomery County by the Philadelphia regional office of the National Weather Service. It warned that “snow and sleet accumulation may result in significant travel disruptions on Friday.”
Weather-related problems may persist through Wednesday (Jan. 24), it added.
Earlier Thursday, at 7:01 p.m., the office based in Mount Holly NJ also issued a winter weather advisory for Friday from 4 a.m. through 10 p.m., and said that snow accumulations of between 3 and 5 inches could be anticipated. Affected would be western Montgomery County and all of Berks County, according to the advisory, and specifically Pottstown, Collegeville, and several other boroughs.
Drivers should “plan on slippery road conditions,” the weather service stated. Hazardous conditions could affect morning or evening commuting, it declared. “Slow down and use caution while traveling,” it urged.
Across the affected areas, federal weather forecasters predicted “temperatures will rapidly drop into the teens late Friday night. Any untreated roads will become icy and dangerous. Areas of blowing snow are possible over the weekend.”
Lower Salford Declares Snow Emergency
Thursday, 8:15 p.m.
During a snow emergency, they noted, residents on highways labeled as “snow emergency streets” must ensure their vehicles are off the road surface, or they will be ticketed or towed. Residents must also “do their best” to remove all sporting equipment, trash receptacles, recycling bins, and decorations from the right-of-way.
The “rule of thumb,” the township added, is to “have these items at least 10 feet away from the curb.”
For those hoping to be better prepared for winter conditions, Lower Salford’s website offers several tips.
Pottstown Area Rapid Transit Halts Buses
Thursday, 5:24 p.m.
POTTSTOWN PA – Buses and other public transportation vehicles operated by Pottstown Area Rapid Transit will temporarily cease travel on scheduled routes beginning Friday at 10 a.m. due to weather conditions, Pottstown Borough government reported on its website.
Regular transit service may resume Saturday “if conditions permit,” the borough added, but did not specify a prospective time. PART thanked the public for its “understanding,” and cautioned residents to “stay safe.”
Longwood Gardens Closing Friday
Thursday, 4:35 p.m.
KENNETT SQUARE PA – Longwood Gardens, the popular southern Chester County tourism attraction at 1001 Longwood Rd., said it will be closed Friday “due to the forecasted weather and for the safety of our guests and staff.”
Representatives said they expected the gardens would reopen to the public Saturday (Jan. 20) at 10 a.m. It asked prospective visitors to check its website for updates, and said it appreciated the public’s “understanding.”
PennDOT, Turnpike Commission Plan Vehicle Restrictions
Thursday, 1:18 p.m.
HARRISBURG PA – Ahead of Friday’s storm, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Turnpike Commission said they planned to implement speed and vehicle restrictions on major interstates and highways to ensure public safety.
As of Friday at 3 a.m., the agencies said specific traffic restrictions would apply in part to the entire lengths of:
- Interstate 78, a portion of which crosses northern Berks County;
- Interstate 176, within southcentral Berks County;
- Interstates 76 and 276, “the entirety of the Turnpike system” including portions through Chester and Montgomery counties; and
- Interstate 476 from the Turnpike south to Philadelphia and Interstate 95.
The restrictions forbid:
- Tractors without trailers, or those towing lightly loaded open, tank, or tandem trailers;
- Enclosed unloaded or lightly loaded cargo commercial delivery trucks and box trucks;
- Passenger vehicles towing trailers, as well as recreational vehicles and motor homes;
- All loaded or unloaded school buses, commercial buses, and motor coaches regardless of the availability of chains or alternative traction devices; and
In general, PennDOT and the commission advise drivers to avoid unnecessary travel during the storm.
They also reported their “crews are actively pre-treating roadways where necessary ahead of the storm to help prevent ice from forming a bond with the pavement.” However, they added “salt does not resolve all risks, and drivers may encounter icy spots on the roadway … Extra caution is needed when approaching bridges and highway ramps where ice can form.”
Top photo by Travels With The Post