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Storm winding down, with another on the way

By Anthony R. Wood and Sandy Bauers

After deposting the second biggest snow in Philadelphia history, the snowstorm is winding down in the the immediate Philadelphia region and directing its fury at the Shore.

As the intensifying coastal storm pulls away, however, it will continue to generate, strong, icy north winds that will cause considerable blowing and drifting.

This is probably not the place to mention that another potentially potent storm is on the horizon for midweek — perhaps a major one — but it’s actually possible.

At last report, officially 26.7 inches was measured at Philadelphia International Airport, 3.5 inches more than was reported for the Dec. 19-20 storm and second all-time behind only the 30.7 of Jan. 7-8, 1996.

Before this winter, Philadelphia had never had two snowfalls of more than 14 inches in the same season.

The seasonal total of 53.9 and counting – heavy snow continues and more is in the forecast for midweek – puts the winter of 2009-10 at No. 4 on the all-time Philadelphia list.

It’s safe to say that whatever you had planned this afternoon, consider it canceled, unless those plans included eating, shoveling or borrowing the neighbor’s snow-blower.

This marks the first time in the history of recordkeeping, dating to 1884, that Philadelphia has had two snowstorms of this magnitude in the same season. The official total for Dec. 19-20 was 23.2, and this one is likely to be close to that.

The storm generating all the snow was intensifying off the Virginia-North Carolina coast this morning. It is expected to pound the Shore with heavy snow all day. The heaviest stuff should end sooner inland, but blowing and drifting will persist on a harsh day for shoveling.

The city of Philadelphia was fighting the storm with all the equipment and people at its disposal – winning in some places and losing in others, Mayor Nutter said at a late-morning briefing.

“Please stay off the roads if you can,” he implored.

By 11 a.m., 18 inches of snow had fallen at Philadelphia International Airport, and wind was creating drifts 20 to 30 inches deep, he said. The snow emergency remained in effect, meaning that any cars parked on emergency routes would be ticketed and towed.

The mayor, wearing a bright red Americorps coat, blinked back flakes of falling snow as he spoke to reporters outside city hall. He asked people to stay inside, and to check on neighbors, particularly the ill and elderly.

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