Blizzard bearing down on Chester County

BlizzardWarningChester County is bracing for what looks to be a massive snowstorm and blizzard-like conditions starting Friday night — with most of the county looking at 12 to 18 inches of snow and high winds into Sunday morning.

The National Weather Service issued a Blizzard Warning for the eastern side of Chester County, with a Winter Storm Warning for the remaining portions of the county. While most of the county can expect win and 12 to 18 inches of snow, the southwest portion of the county may see 18 to 24 inches of snow.

The snow is expected to start in the southwest portion of the county first, either late this afternoon or early evening, likely impacting the evening commute. The worst weather and highest winds will take place Saturday, NWS said, and with exceptionally poor visibility. Motorists are advised to stay off roadways Saturday except in case of emergency. Wind gusts are expected to peak at 40 MPH, potentially creating whiteout conditions.

Local, county and state governments have moved into action ahead of the storm — declaring various states of emergency.

Gov. Tom Wolf declared a state of emergency Thursday in preparation for the storm. The disaster emergency proclamation enables state and local authorities to respond to any unmet needs as quickly as possible as a snowstorm is forecasted to blanket snow across much of the state.

“Declaring a state of emergency allows the commonwealth to deliver state resources wherever they’re needed as quickly as possible,” said Gov. Wolf. “We have multiple state agencies working at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to monitor weather conditions across the state and we will respond to help local governments and residents in need.”

The proclamation authorizes state agencies to use all available resources and personnel, as necessary, to cope with the magnitude and severity of the situation. The time-consuming bid and contract procedures, as well as other formalities normally prescribed by law, are waived for the duration of the proclamation. The State Emergency Operations Center, located at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency headquarters outside Harrisburg, is staffed by personnel from multiple state agencies.

Virtually all local municipalities have invoked their Snow Emergency declarations — which in most cases bans on-street parking in specific areas to allow for better snow removal and plowing. Those emergency declarations have been formally declared in Coatesville, Downingtown and virtually all other Chester County municipalities, starting Friday evening.

PECO, anticipating power outages with the high winds and large snow fall, has brought in extra manpower from its other operating regions to help with expediting restoration.

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