Ice Downs Trees Causes Power Outages, Delays - My9 New Jersey

Ice Downs Trees Causes Power Outages, Delays

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PHILADELPHIA -

A lot of the Delaware Valley is facing no power after a winter medley of snow, ice and freezing rain. Many trees, unable to bear both the weight on their branches from the ice/snow and the saturated ground from the rain, have given way, leading to downed power lines, blocked roads, and lots of other very dangerous conditions for people staying home or outside.

As conditions deteriorate, trees fall, water mains break and power outages occur, make sure to check stay with FOX 29 as we cover the events until the afternoon.

WATCH LIVE: Continuing Coverage Of Winter Storm, 4 a.m.-3 p.m. 

The icy conditions have knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of electric customers in southeastern Pennsylvania and have prompted speed reductions on major roadways.

PECO is reporting more than 500,00 customers without power in the five-county Philadelphia regions, most of them in suburban counties, worst since Sandy. More than 85% of Chester County (>180,000) is without power. Bob Kagel of the Chester County Emergency Management, says that they are working with the American Red Cross and other agencies to help deal with the power situation and get residents shelters as last resort with places to charge electronics if needed. This will be a multi-day event, Kagel said. Make sure to remove your cars from the emergency snow routes.

FOX 29's Karen Hepp was in Chester County. Power is out everywhere. Even the hotels in Downingtown and the usual 24-hour WAWAs have no power. West Chester University is closed.

"It's like a hurricane," said Karen. Thalia Perez reported from West Chester in the afternoon. Students were walking to the gym to take a warm shower. There are a lot of downed wires.

PSE&G and PPL are also reporting more than 63,000 outages total. Make sure to read the story on the right to stay up to date with the latest power outages.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Administration is reporting delays and some cancellations on suburban Philadelphia routes. About 34 routes are on detour, SEPTA headquarters say. According to the NHSL, SEPTA's Norristown High Speed Line has service has restored. They previously were suspended due to downed trees. The Paoli/Thorndale line is suspended due to Amtrack power issues. The Warminster Regional Rail Line is also suspended due to signal problems. SEPTA gave FOX 29 an exclusive look at their headquarters at 8:20 and 8:40, the reports from within the SEPTA headquarters are attached to this story. FOX 29's Dave Shratwiser reports that some trains to NYC and Washington, DC are now boarding at 30th street station, though there are too many delays to list.

Philadelphia Darnell Mitchell was a passenger on one of these trains that tried to leave 30th Street Station. He was trying to reach Harrisburg, but never made it. He got to the station early at 6:25 a.m. and ended up back in Philly at 9:25 a.m. after being detoured all over the place.

"Very frustrating," he said.

CHECK DELAYS HERE.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike earlier ordered speed limits reduced to 45 mph and banned empty tractor-trailers until further notice. Those speeds restrictions have been lifted now. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation also dropped speed limits during the morning 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.

PennDOT's Gene Blaum says that they are actively trying to remove downed trees from roads, but the problem is that certain trees are entangled with wires, so they can only barricade those roads and wait for the utility companies to come deal with those dangers.

"We're patrolling the roadways...as soon as we find out about downed trees, our crews are responding," said Blaum. "Travel with extreme care, be prepared that your normal route may be blocked."

Many roads are closed, said Blaum. "As quickly as our crews get one road open, another road closes because of fallen trees."

FOX 29's Steve Keeley was in Allentown, Pa. for the first hours of the morning commute. Ice coated everything. "You gotta be like a martial artist to cut it away," Keeley said.

He then moved to Lower Merion. There was a downed wire with melted snow running right through it. Keeley managed to flag down an official who got the area taped off so that no drivers would try to cross. Keeley also witnesseda few other cars with trees on top of them.

FOX 29's Dawn Timmeney was in Doylestown, Pa. during the morning. Dawn reported slushy conditions. Residents reported commuting times more than quadrupled in length. At 9:00 a.m. Dawn reported seeing downed trees and utility poles everywhere. Trees will continue to fall down as ice weigh more and more on branches. She moved to Bucks County, where many people are without power. There are downed trees every where.

Jenn Fred was driving around, looking at the roads today. By 9:30, Jenn was in Bucks County, where there are currently more than 143,000 customers without customers. Even in the morning, there were huge branches all around the highway. The traffic was also completely backed up on US Route 1 with mile after mile of traffic.

"When we went to bed, we thought it was going to be the stuff below us that was going to be the problem, the roads, the side walks. In fact, it turns out it's the stuff above us, the trees, the power lines, that are causing problems," said Jenn.

Jenn Fred was at Germantown at around 8:20. The branches are covered with ice and all the trees are so heavy. Jenn recommends that anyone with cars under trees should move them. Also, charge everything now if you still have power.

In Delaware, the federal government is open, but workers can telework or take unscheduled leave. Delaware state government offices in New Castle County are opening at 10 a.m. Liberal leave is in effect for Maryland state workers until noon.

Baltimore Gas and Electric is reporting about 19,000 customers without power and Delmarva Power is reporting about 7,000.

In New Jersey, snow is mainly a problem north of Interstate 78, where 4 to 8 inches are possible.

Sleet and freezing rain is creating slippery conditions in other parts of the state. It's mainly raining from Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties south Wednesday morning.

Gov. Chris Christie has declared a State of Emergency and state offices are closed for non-essential employees.

Air travelers should check with their airlines because delays and flight cancellations are expected at Newark Liberty International Airport.

NJ Transit is operating on a storm schedule. Buses and trains are cross-honoring tickets. The state is still digging out from Monday's snowstorm. SEPTA's West Trenton line is suspended due to power problems.

For anyone not staying inside, please, please be careful!! The fear tonight is that much of this current melting will refreeze. Exercise extreme caution tonight and tomorrow morning.

CHECK LATEST SCHOOL CLOSINGS HERE.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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