Northeast Readies For Snowstorm

Sunday, March 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Authorities in the Northeast readied salt trucks and imposed emergency regulations Sunday in anticipation of a powerful winter storm that could paralyze the region with more than a foot of snow.

Winter storm watches were in effect from Virginia beginning Sunday and extending into Wednesday for the New England states, the National Weather Service said.

``I wouldn't have travel plans,'' said NWS forecaster Mike Evans. ``If this thing pans out, it may be practically impossible to go anywhere.''

Getting ready
AP/William Thomas Cain [30K]

A weather system that was spreading rain and thunderstorms across the Gulf Coast states on Saturday was headed for the North Carolina coast, where it could turn into a major nor'easter on Sunday, the weather service said.

Forecasters expected the storm to intensify and bring up to 2 feet of snow across southeastern Pennsylvania where more than 60,000 tons of salt and 400 trucks were on standby Sunday.

Philadelphia officials declared a snow emergency beginning at 3 p.m., barring residents from parking on snow emergency routes. In nearby Malvern, police declared a snow emergency to go into effect at noon.

``The crews are resting up because once they start, they won't stop until the snow subsides,'' said spokesman Charles Metzger.

Hardware store owner Art D'Armiento in North Brunswick, N.J., ran out of snow shovels Saturday morning and picked up another shipment, but 15 minutes later he was sold out again.

``People were fighting over them,'' he said.

Lightning from one of the system's thunderstorms apparently caused a fire that killed five people early Saturday in Montgomery, Ala., a city fire inspector said.

Heavy rain was falling in Georgia when a National Guard plane crashed early Saturday, killing all 21 people on board.

``In the way it's evolving and predictions of how it's coming together, we haven't seen anything like this since 1966,'' said Louis W. Uccellini, director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction at the Commerce Department in Washington. That January storm was blamed for 165 deaths along the East Coast.

``I'm sick of it,'' said Stanley Kitten Hayward, 63, in the packed Home Depot store in Philadelphia. ``I want to go south.''

At Karns Quality Foods in Cumberland County, Pa., milk cartons were being hauled off the shelves so quickly on Saturday that workers could barely keep up.

``There hasn't been a break yet,'' Jeff Haft, 15, said as he and co-worker Grant Lawrence, 16, restocked the milk shelves. ``And when we get done with this, the eggs are empty, so we've got to restock them. It's a vicious cycle.''

New Jersey authorities were most concerned about high wind causing coastal flooding and started urging voluntary evacuations, warning that barrier islands could be cut off from the mainland. A weather service bulletin Saturday warned residents to take such precautions.

``I'm trying to figure out whether I should take my kids off the island or leave them here,'' said Julie Oldham, the Long Beach Island shelter coordinator. ``It'll be an adventure, that's for sure.''

The New York State Emergency Management Office was on alert and other state agencies had been notified, said emergency management spokesman Dennis Michalski.

``Everyone is standing by to see which direction it goes,'' said Dean Pagani, spokesman for Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland.