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February 20, 2019

Winter Storm Petra: What you need to know

SEPTA Regional Rail moves to an Early Exit schedule

Weather Snow
Carroll - Winter Storm Petra Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Not even snow can stop this group of people from putting on a Rocky pose on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during Winter Storm Petra, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019.

Winter Storm Petra will be arriving imminently in the Philadelphia region. Here's what you need to know about this winter storm:


The snow is expected to begin in the city between 9 and 11 a.m., and then transition to sleet after 4:30 p.m. and several hours later to rain. It will rain heavily, before ceasing sometime overnight. A winter storm warning is effect from 10 a.m. Wednesday to 1 a.m. Thursday for Chester County and western Montgomery County. A winter weather advisory has been declared in Philadelphia, Delaware County, eastern Montgomery County and Lower Bucks County, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday.

02202019_snow_map_NOAASource/NOAA / National Weather Service


It depends where you are. In and near the city, about three inches. In the northern and western suburbs, about 4-5 inches. But there is much uncertainty given this type of storm, due in part to the time of the switchover to sleet and perhaps freezing rain.

Carroll - Winter Storm PetraThom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Morning traffic heads eastbound on I-76 during Winter Storm Petra, Wednesday Feb. 20, 2019.


Most of the impact looks to hit during the afternoon commute, though streets will like be slick well before that. Roads will be snow-covered and slippery, perhaps with a glazing of ice to make driving hazardous. Motorists are urged to exercise caution and take their time.


Gov. Phil Murphy has declared a state of emergency to allow resources to be deployed throughout the state during the duration of the storm.


All Philadelphia public and parochial schools are closed. Dozens of suburban school districts as well as day care centers are also closed for the day. You can see a list here.

All Philadelphia School District administrative offices will be open Wednesday. All after-school activities including all athletic programs and professional development sessions scheduled for Wednesday are canceled as well. All district early childhood centers will also be closed. All district building engineers are to report for work at their normal start time.


SEPTA has announced its Regional Rail trains will be running on an Early Exit schedule, which means 9 trains from the PM schedule will be moved to midday to accommodate people leaving the city early. All other trains remain on normal schedule.

PATCO and NJ Transit are running on normal schedules, though changes are possible if weather conditions warrant. You can follow further announcements from SEPTA, PATCO and NJ Transit.

Amtrak is modifying its Keystone Service between New York City and Harrisburg on Wednesday. Trains 647 and 651 will terminate in Philadelphia, while Train 656 will originate in Philadelphia. Train 620 is canceled.


De-icing operations are underway at Philadelphia International Airport and cancellations and delays are reported. The airport advises passengers to check flight status with their airline before coming to the airport wherever you’re flying. Some airlines are offering fee waivers to change itineraries for booked travel to/from certain cities on certain dates in anticipation of the storm. If you're planning to fly over the next couple of days, check with your airline for details. To get flight status, call your airline, get updates at 1-800-PHL-GATE or check the airport website,


PHILADELPHIA: All municipal city offices in Philadelphia will close at 1 p.m. All courts and offices of the Philadelphia courts will be closed. If you are scheduled for jury duty on Wednesday, do not report for service. You will be rescheduled to serve at a later date. All critical services, including emergency protection from abuse, bail acceptance, and preliminary arraignments, are expected to remain operational. The Eastern District of Philadelphia is also closed.

BUCKS COUNTY: All courts and government offices are closed. If you are scheduled for jury duty on Wednesday, do not report for service. Check the jury duty page for more information and to receive stand-by numbers for Thursday. The Bucks County Commissioners meeting scheduled for today has been canceled.

CHESTER COUNTY: All courts and government offices are closed.

DELAWARE COUNTY: The courthouse and government offices are closed.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY: The courthouse and government offices are closed. If you are scheduled for jury duty on Wednesday, do not report for service. Jurors will be rescheduled at a future date.


Travel on area highways and roadways at some times of the day is expected to be hazardous. At noon on Wednesday, PennDOT will enact a ban on commercial vehicles with empty trailers, double trailers, non-commercial vehicles pulling trailers, recreational vehicles, and motorcycles on the following local interstates: I-76 (from King of Prussia to NJ), I-476, I-676, and PA Turnpike I-76 (from Carlisle to King of Prussia), and PA Turnpike I-276 (from King of Prussia to I-95).


The Philly 311 Call Center will remain open during normal business hours Wednesday (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 at 215-685-6300 will be open. Citizens 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.

Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services has declared a Code Blue to prevent weather-related deaths among people experiencing homelessness. During a Code Blue, the city’s homeless outreach teams increase staffing and foot patrols throughout the city and transports homeless people directly to shelter 24 hours a day. Also, during a Code Blue, Philadelphia police are authorized to transport homeless people to a shelter.

City officials urge concerned citizens who see a person living on the street to call Homeless Outreach at 215-232-1984 and report the sighting. During the call, citizens should provide the address, location, and description of the person in need. Homeless outreach teams are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For updates on Indego bike share during the snowstorm, please refer to the website or follow @rideindego on Twitter.

The Departments of Parks and 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 the department 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.

In regards to pet safety, residents should contact the ACCT Philly hotline (267-385-3800) if they observe a dog or other pet outside during extreme cold. It is against city ordinance to leave dogs outside in extreme cold without proper shelter, and owners can be fined up to $500.

Stay informed. Sign up for emergency alerts and weather updates from ReadyPhiladelphia at

For official updates from the City of Philadelphia, follow @PhilaOEM on Twitter or find them on Facebook.

Other City Twitter accounts to follow for information: @PhiladelphiaGov; @Philly311; @PhilaStreets; @PhillyPolice; and @PhillyFireDept.