PHILADELPHIA – With another storm approaching, Managing Director Tumar Alexander announced that a Snow Emergency will be declared for the City of Philadelphia beginning at 6 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, February 18, 2021.
A Snow Emergency means all parked vehicles must be moved off Snow Emergency routes for plowing. When moving your car, park as far from the corner of the street as possible; vehicles parked too close to the corner get in the way of snowplows trying to turn corners.
Snow Emergency information and a map of Snow Emergency routes can be found at philadelphiastreets.com/highways/snow/emergency-routes/. Vehicles left on Snow Emergency routes will be moved to other parking spots to assist in snow plowing operations. If your car is moved, call 215-686-SNOW (7669), and press option 4, to find it. Do NOT call 911.
The forecast is calling for a winter storm beginning tomorrow, Thursday, February 18 through Friday, February 19. Current forecast is for significant snow with a total of 4 – 6 inches of accumulations expected across the city. Heavy, wet snow is expected.
“Crews will continue snow operations until all conditions are safe for travel,” said Managing Director Tumar Alexander. “However, this storm is expected to bring heavy snow and mild winds. Residents should be mindful of fallen tree limbs and possible power and signal outages. Our goal is to make roads passable and return the city back to normal operations as quickly as possible.”
The Plan: In preparation for the latest snow event the Streets Department will have a full deployment of equipment and employees. By tomorrow, the Department will mobilize over 400 pieces of equipment including support from City agencies and contractors. Crews brined all day today. The Streets Department has 20,000 tons of salt available.
Snow emergency routes, primary roads, and secondary roads will be serviced first to allow for safe passage. Residential streets will be treated after the primary and secondary roads are safe to travel. Our goal is to make roads passable and return the city back to normal operations as quickly as possible. This does not mean roads will be completely clear of snow and ice but made passable for safe traveling.
- Do not shovel or plow snow into the street. This practice is illegal, unsafe and hinders snow operations. The penalty for violating this can range from $50 to $300 for each violation.
- Clear a sidewalk path at least 36 inches wide within six hours of the end of the storm.
- Clear snow from neighborhood sewer drains to allow melting snow to drain.
- Motorists should allow extra time, exercise patience and maintain safe driving distances.
Sanitation and Recycling Collections: The Streets Department is suspending trash and recycling collections on Thursday, February 18 so that crews and sanitation vehicles can be utilized for snow operations. Collections will resume Friday, February 19. Residents should expect delays as crews navigate through the snow and ice:
- Wednesday’s collections, which was scheduled for Thursday this week due to the Presidents Day holiday, are postponed until Friday
- Thursday’s collections are postponed until Saturday
- Residents whose normal trash day is Friday should hold their materials until Friday, February 26
- Residents may set materials at their normal pickup location. Residents with rear driveway collections should expect delays as some rear driveways can be inaccessible when there is significant hard-packed snow and ice. Crews will continue to assess inaccessible driveways and attempt to pick up materials when sanitation trucks can pass through safely.
Sanitation Convenience Centers will be closed to the public on Thursday, February 18 as crews will be working snow duty. Center operations will resume on Friday, February 19 with normal hours of 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. The centers are open Monday through Saturday. Visit philadelphiastreets.com for locations.
PlowPHL: The Streets Department launched today the Snow app, PlowPHL. An interactive map that allows residents to track and monitor the status of the City’s plowing and salting operations. PlowPHL is the fourth and final web mapping tool on the StreetSmartPHL platform.
City Buildings and Services: This snow event is not expected to interfere with City operations tomorrow, Thursday, February 18.
Information for Businesses: All property owners and/or tenants are responsible for clearing a 36 inch path on all sidewalks, including curb cuts, abutting the building or premises within six hours after the snow has ceased to fall—even if the establishment is temporarily closed due to snow or COVID-19 restrictions. A fine of $50 or more can be imposed in violation of this code.
Establishments with outdoor dining will need to take additional precautions in advance of the storm. All outdoor dining setups should be secured, removing as much of the setups as possible—including tables, chairs, heating equipment, temporary structures. As noted in the City’s winter guidelines for outdoor dining, the City is not liable for any damage from plowing or snow removal, even if structures are permitted. Materials should be cleared from the right of way as much as possible to avoid possible damage and blocking of dining setups. Restaurants with unpermitted structures are reminded that their establishment is liable for any injuries suffered due to damage from the structure during and after the storm.
Food Sites: Some meal sites and food distribution sites will be closed on Thursday, February 18 due to the weather. Visit phila.gov/food to view specific site schedules.
Access Centers: Access Centers will be closed for the full day on Thursday, February 18, 2021. Caregivers of students will be called by program staff to inform them of this change. Students who attend Access Centers should contact their individual schools regarding attendance while Access Centers are closed.
School District of Philadelphia: The School District of Philadelphia will close all buildings tomorrow, Thursday, February 18, including all Family Technology Support Centers, Specialized Services Regional Centers, District headquarters at 440 North Broad Street and all school buildings. These closures will allow for the safe clearing of snow from all roadways and walkways on District properties.
With all instruction taking place digitally, there will not be a need to issue a “snow day,” so learning and instruction will continue as planned. Although the Tech Support Centers will be closed, families and staff can use the Tech Support Hotlines by calling 215-400-5555 (staff) and 215-400-4444 (families) if necessary. All staff designated as essential personnel during inclement weather will be contacted by their supervisor with reporting instructions, and will be compensated according to the provisions of their collective bargaining agreements, if applicable. All other staff are expected to safely work from home.
The District will continue to work closely with the city’s Office of Emergency Management to monitor weather and road conditions, and will provide updates if additional changes are expected.
Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Due to projected inclement weather, Archdiocesan high schools and parochial elementary schools in the City of Philadelphia will conduct virtual instruction tomorrow, Thursday, February 18. Secondary Schools in the City of Philadelphia will be on a virtual Flexible Day of Instruction. Archdiocesan high schools and parochial elementary schools in the suburban counties normally follow the decision of their corresponding local public school district and submit closure status independently.
City-Run Testing Sites: City-run COVID-19 testing sites will remain open on February 18 with the exception of the Mobile Testing Unit event at Beloved St. John Evangelistic Church at 4541 North Broad Street, which is being canceled due to weather. The Health Department recommends calling ahead to non-City run sites to check if the sites are open or to learn if they are operating with different hours.
City-Run Vaccine Clinics: Health Department COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be closed on Thursday, February 18. Individuals who have registered for appointments with the Health Department are being contacted to reschedule their appointments. For all of the non-City sites, including hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies, residents should call ahead to check their status.
SEPTA plans to start Thursday morning operating on regular service schedules; however, customers are cautioned to plan for disruptions and check for updates before leaving home. SEPTA will post real-time travel updates at septa.org and @SEPTA on Twitter.
Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA): PPA will be offering a flat twenty-four-hour $5 parking rate at the following Center City garages from 6 p.m. Wednesday February 17, until the snow emergency is lifted.
- AutoPark at Independence Mall (5th & Market Streets)
- AutoPark at Jefferson (10th & Ludlow Streets)
- AutoPark at the Fashion District (10th & Filbert Streets)
- AutoPark at Old City (2nd & Sansom Streets)
- Parkade on 8th (801 Filbert Street)
- Philadelphia Family Court Garage (1503-11 Arch Street – Going south on 15th Street, enter the garage on the west side just after 15th & Cherry St.)
To receive the discounted $5 rate, customers must bring their ticket and pay at the PPA Management Office in each garage. During the snow emergency, the PPA will enforce all snow emergency and safety violations. Starting at 6 a.m. Thursday, February 18, meters, kiosks and time limit violations on residential blocks will not be enforced until the snow emergency is lifted.
Additionally, beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday, February 18, vehicles illegally parked on snow emergency routes will be subject to ticketing and towing. If your vehicle is towed during the snow emergency, please call the city’s snow emergency line at 215-686-SNOW or visit the PPA’s website at philapark.org/tow for its location.
PHL International Airport: Travelers and those picking up travelers are encouraged to check their flight status and road conditions before leaving for the airport on Thursday and Friday. Call your airline, get updates at 1-800-PHL-GATE (745-4283), or check the PHL International Airport website—phl.org. The airport has brined onsite roadways, with snow removal and deicing operations planned for the duration of the event.
Call Centers Open: The Philly 311 Call Center will remain open during normal business hours on Thursday (8 a.m. – 8 p.m.) to take calls for non-emergencies. Requests for salting and plowing will not be taken during the storm. Once the storm has moved on, the City will announce when such requests will be taken.
The Philadelphia Water Department’s customer contact center (215-685-6300) will be open. Residents are encouraged to shovel snow from the fronts of fire hydrants and storm drains on their block to allow snow melt to drain to the city sewer system.
Homeless Outreach: The Office of Homeless Services issued a Code Blue on Wednesday, February 10 at 3 p.m., and it will remain in effect until further notice. Throughout the Code Blue, Philadelphia’s homeless outreach teams will patrol the streets in greater numbers, urging individuals experiencing homelessness to come indoors and avoid prolonged exposure to the elements amid dangerously cold temperatures. People do not need ID to enter shelters, and they can remain indoors throughout the duration of the Code Blue. If you are concerned about someone who is homeless, please call Homeless Outreach at 215-232-1984 at any time. Outreach is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. First responders can also transport people to shelter for their own safety. Review the Safer Shelter Initiative to learn how City-funded, privately operated shelters keep residents and staff safe.
Pet Safety Awareness: Residents should contact the ACCT Philly hotline (267-385-3800 ext 1) if they observe a dog outside during extreme cold (aside from bathroom breaks and short walks). It is against City ordinance to leave dogs outside in extreme cold without proper shelter, and owners can be fined up to $500.
Philadelphia Prisons: All Philadelphia Department of Prisons facilities remain closed to civilian visitors due to COVID-19 precautions.
First Judicial District: Courts will be closed but critical services will be operational on Thursday, February 18, including: Emergency Protection from Abuse Filings, Preliminary Arraignment Court, and Bail Acceptance.
The Department of Parks & Recreation reminds residents that if a tree falls during a storm and it’s blocking a road, or it has fallen on a house, car or other property, call 911. A crew of arborists from Philadelphia Parks & Recreation are on-call to respond to tree emergencies and they will come out to remove the hazard and any part of the tree that is an immediate risk to public safety. Other parts of the tree that don’t pose an immediate risk (such as tree trunks and stumps) will be removed at a later time so crews can focus on other safety hazards around the city during extreme weather events. In the event that a tree has fallen on electrical wires, please call PECO’s emergency line: 1-800-841-4141. For other non-emergency downed trees, residents can submit a request through Philly 311.
- Tune to local news for weather updates.
- Sign up for emergency alerts and weather updates from ReadyPhiladelphia at www.phila.gov/ready.
- For more winter weather tips, visit the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management online at www.phila.gov/ready.
- For official updates from the City, follow @PhilaOEM on Twitter or Facebook.
- Other City Twitter accounts to follow for information: @PhiladelphiaGov, @Philly311 and @PhilaStreets.