Heavy snow blankets region; few accidents reported; Victorian Christmas plows on

bmilazzo@centredaily.comDecember 14, 2013 

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    Clear the roads

    Most local municipalities are urging residents to move their cars from the streets so snowplows can get through. Alerts and/or snow emergencies have been declared in State College, College, Ferguson and Patton townships and on the Penn State campus.

    •  State College has suspended street parking from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.

    Parking garages and parking lots will remain open, and patrons of downtown businesses are encouraged to use the Fraser Street garage, the Pugh Street garage and the McAllister deck of Beaver garage.

    All cars must be removed or cars parked in violation of any ordinance of the borough may be towed at the owner’s expense. Residents and property owners are also reminded that sidewalks must be cleared within 24 hours after the snow has stopped.

    •  Penn State issued a “midnight clear” for the weekend. That means no parking in uncovered lots between midnight and 7 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

    •  Ferguson Township also issued an alert that residents should clear snow anytime more than 2 inches accumulates, according to a township advisory. Vehicles should remain off the streets for 48 hours after the last of the snow has ceased to fall to allow the roads to be further cleared and treated.

    Those who do not remove their vehicles are subject to parking tickets or towing.

    •  A snow emergency has been declared in Patton Township, where all vehicles must be parked off the road from 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday.

    Sidewalks must be cleared within 24 hours after snow has stopped.

    •  In College Township, residents must move cars off the roads by 1 p.m. Saturday and not park them on the streets until 6 p.m. Sunday.

    Sidewalks must be cleared within 24 hours after snow has stopped.

Joe Cerame heard there was going to be a snowstorm and rushed to his elderly mother’s house in downtown State College on Saturday morning to make sure she was prepared for the dumping of snow that spread across the county.

“I trucked over, pre-salted the driveway and steps, and left an extra shovel near the porch,” he said. “From what I heard on the news, I knew it was going to be a killer.”

Reports from the National Weather Service in State College said that 8 to 10 inches of snow were expected until 4 a.m. Sunday — that was up from the 5 to 8 inches that was originally predicted.

Meteorologist Joe Ceru said the snow began to fall by 9 a.m. Saturday and didn’t quit the rest of the day.

The strongest period of accumulation was in the late afternoon, with up to two inches of snowfall per hour in some areas, Ceru said. Areas south of Centre County will have a chance of mixed precipitation early Sunday morning with minimal freezing drizzle in the county.

“This is the first high snow accumulation. Some other years have had a mild winter, but this is not outside the norm,” Ceru said.

At about 6:30 p.m., PennDOT issued an advisory that the westbound lanes of U.S. 322 between Milroy in Mifflin County and the top of Seven Mountains in Centre County were closed. The advisory stated that PennDOT hoped to reopen the lanes at 8 p.m.

State College Borough Manager Thomas Fountaine declared a snow emergency.

Similar declarations were announced in Harris, Ferguson, College and Patton townships, where authorities asked residents to remove their vehicles from streets until the snow stopped and the streets were plowed.

Residents and property owners are also reminded that sidewalks must be cleared within 24 hours after the snow has stopped, Fountaine said.

At the University Park Airport, several flights were canceled to and from Washington, D.C.

State police dispatchers reported no major auto accidents despite the blustery conditions and said throughout the day Saturday that I-80 was plowed down to one lane in each direction.

State College Lt. Mark Argiro said that about a dozen accidents he classified as “fender benders” were reported. Others simply slid off the road, he said.

And at holiday events around the county, such as Bellefonte Victorian Christmas, the weather didn’t put a freeze on the yuletide activities.

Organizer and chairwoman Sally Houser said that if anything, the winter white was a boost to bring people out.

“We’ve actually been quite busy,” she said. “I think the snow puts people in the mood to come out and celebrate the holidays.”

Annually, State College sees about 40 inches of snow, Ceru said. To date, the area has had 7.6 inches. On average in December, the town sees about 10 inches of snow, Ceru added.

“We are trending above normal snowfalls in the next six to 10 days,” Ceru said.

But that is not an indication of a snowier winter, Ceru added.

The National Weather Service is expecting an “about average” snowy winter this year.

Temperatures have dipped below normal, Ceru said.

The average temperatures for this time of year see a high of 38 degrees with a low of 24 degrees.

On Sunday, highs are expected to reach about 30 degrees in Centre County with lows in the teens, and that will continue until Monday. Ceru said that by Tuesday, temperatures will warm up to around freezing, and by the end of the week, Centre County will see highs in the 40s with little chance of precipitation.

“There’s a chance that by the end of the week, that snow could all be melted,” Ceru said. “We should see dry, warmer air by the end of the week.”

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.

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