While it may not be uncommon for people to wish for a “white Christmas,” the record snowfall that hit the region surrounding Erie, Pennsylvania over the holiday likely left many wishing for the snowfall to stop instead. With snow coming down at a rate of over three inches per hour, Pennsylvania’s fourth largest city found itself buried under more than four feet of snow on Tuesday, and now the Army National Guard has been called in to help dig them out. Even after record shattering snowfall on Monday and Tuesday, meteorologists are now predicting as much as one to two more feet may still be falling.
With more than 58 inches of snow falling in some parts of the city, officials continue to ask that civilians stay off of the roads and highways throughout the region.
Roads are dangerous and impassable,” police said on Facebook. “This is an incredible amount of snow that we’re trying to move and (we) appreciate resident cooperation. Residents should stay off of City of Erie streets until it stops snowing, and we can get the roads open.”
Because of the impassable roads, officials have grown increasingly concerned about the capability of first responders to reach citizens in need of help. Many people have reported that the snowfall is so heavy that the roads become impassable again only hours after plows pass through an area, prompting fears that ambulances may not be able to manage the heavy snow. As a result, the governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf (D), has declared a state of emergency, and National Guard vehicles are being brought in to supplement emergency services.
They don’t have vehicles high enough, so we are currently working with the National Guard to be able to deploy Humvee ambulances to assist them,” said Richard D. Flinn, the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Emergency Management. “We will also provide the state police with Humvees in case they need it.”
Christmas day broke the state’s single-day snowfall record by a massive 14 inches, with 34 inches falling on Monday alone versus the previous record of 20 inches on November 22, 1956. Another estimated 24.5 inches fell on Tuesday, bringing the grand total up to an incredible 58.5 inches, another state record. Despite bordering Lake Erie and being no stranger to brutal winter weather, the Erie community has been crippled by this week’s record-smashing storm.
Our National Guard members are trained to assist the citizens of our commonwealth during severe winter storms like Erie is experiencing right now,” Gov. Wolf said. “We are very fortunate that they live and work in our communities and are able to mobilize on short notice in order to provide the manpower and equipment needed in northwestern PA.”
Image courtesy of the U.S. Army
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