PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The major winter storm bearing down on Pennsylvania was disrupting travel plans even before it arrived Friday, and forecasters said the snowfall could complicate Philadelphia’s evening rush.
All flights into and out of Philadelphia International Airport have been canceled for Saturday, when the blizzard conditions were expected to be in full swing, airport spokeswoman Diane Gerace said.
“The airlines got out in front of this storm and proactively canceled all flights,” she said.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Philadelphia and its suburbs from 7 p.m. Friday until Sunday morning. A blizzard warning also was in effect for the Interstate 95 corridor between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware.
Snow began falling in much of the state by afternoon and light snow began in Philadelphia on Friday night. It was not expected to stop until Sunday.
As much as 24 inches was anticipated around Philadelphia, and accumulations of 2 1/2 feet were possible for inland areas such as Gettysburg, Lancaster and York, forecasters said.
High winds of up to 30 mph, with gusts of 45 mph, could cause whiteout conditions, making travel extremely dangerous. Downed power lines and trees could cause widespread outages.
Gerace said airlines hope to resume flights on Sunday, but travelers should check with their carriers to get detailed information.
Airline travelers were trying their best to get out of Philadelphia Friday before the first flakes fell.
Sean Hogan was supposed to take a flight from Baltimore to Seattle Friday night, but his flight was canceled.
“So I hopped on the phone - ‘How can I get out of here?’ - and decided to try Philly,” he said. “So far, so good, but they won’t issue my ticket yet. So I don’t know if I’m leaving or not. We’ll see.”
Gov. Tom Wolf declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm, which allows authorities to respond quickly to any problems.
Philadelphia will be under a snow emergency effective at 9 p.m.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is suspending almost all service around Philadelphia starting at 4 a.m. Saturday.
SEPTA’s General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel said the Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines will continue to run to transport essential personnel, but depending on conditions they might only operate underground.
Service should resume Sunday morning but downed trees and other damage will determine how quickly things move, he said.
“For our region, this is good timing,” he said. “Saturday is the day to stay home and Sunday will give us a chance to really clean things up.”
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