That time a historic winter storm hit Philly — our story, with neighborhood pics and video
Feeling wintery? After two years without a significant snowfall in the region, January 2024 brought us two blasts of the white stuff: one gave us about 2 inches (that quickly crusted with ice) followed by Winter Storm Indigo, that moved into the area Friday the 17th, and by evening we had 4+ inches on the ground, plus drifts and plunging temperatures. 🌬️🥶 As neighbors shared snow pics on Facebook, it was hard not to feel nostalgic for good times gone by, and previous snowstorms that seemed to bring whole blocks together.
In this spirit, we present this throwback to the last historic blizzard to hit the area, eight years ago this month. Meanwhile, we’ve got another two months of winter ahead, best wishes for a safe and snug season. 🙌❄️❄️❄️💙
Originally published January 23, 2016
On January 22nd in 2016, the Northeast was slammed by a “crippling” Category 5 blizzard that blanketed the city under 2 feet of snow. On top of this accumulation, the storm’s ferocious winds caused widespread drifting 4 to 5 feet high in some areas. The snow started falling Friday night, with snow emergencies in effect for evening rush hour. SEPTA basically shut down service for the weekend, along with PHL airport, the Reading Terminal market, along with all city libraries, recreation centers, and city jail visitation.
In East Falls, the snow laid fast and thick — by 7pm on Friday, it looked like a snow globe out our window. We suited up and hit the streets for the first photos of the blizzard. We walked from Gypsy Lane through the “new homes” to McDevitt, then back up through the historic area. Everywhere we went, neighbors were in great spirits:
Saturday, we had quite a coffee run! Started out around 6:45 am, to find sidewalks largely un-shoveled, and most roads were still pretty thick with gunky wet snow (although the main ones had been pretty much plowed).
Of the few cars that were on the road, many seemed to be having difficulty (big surprise, I know!). We even saw a plow truck stuck in the snow off Schoolhouse lane. The river iced over in a cool rippled pattern, and the wind was relentless, blowing snow into shifting drifts and covering over fresh tracks behind you as you walked. While Philly has a diehard rowing community, the only paddlers on the river this weekend were the feathered kind.
At 8:00 am, Calumet Street was exhaustingly beautiful — a smooth, glistening expanse of snow that hadn’t been plowed or even walked on. Before I know it, I was creeping uphill to capture the street’s charming, colorful rowhomes in their snug winter scenery. Of course, each new angle seemed prettier than the next, and before I knew it, I was committed to a climb way steeper than I’d intended for two feet of fresh snow. 🤣 Dammit, Calumet! lol About halfway up I seriously considered lying down to make snow angels.
This was one heavy, windy storm! Weather channel told us to brace for the whole weekend, and prepare for a ton of cleanup.
PS. Isn’t it purdy, though?! ❄️📷📹 Click here for more pics and video of the storm in East Falls. ❄️📷📹
Patch.com reported snow totals of up to 3 feet of accumulation in some parts of the Delaware Valley (they were also posting hourly updates). In Philadelphia, our official total was 22.4 inches — the fourth largest snowfall in the city’s history, after December 2009 (23.2 inches), February 2010 (28.5 inches), and the most we’ve ever seen was in January 1996, when we got 30.7 inches (!) plus massive drifts and bitter cold temps for weeks.
Share your neighborhood pics with the world! Tweet @EastFallsLocal or tag us on Facebook (where we’re trying to cover every nook & cranny, ha). Photos from our walks around East Falls, Sunday, January 24th:
THANKYOUVERYMUCH: Above shares from @MotorCityN8, Heather Petrone-Shook, and Bastiaan Slabbers, our favorite local Dutch guy and roaming photo-journalist (who always seems to be up to something interesting — here’s his NewsWorks gallery of the blizzard, too).
💙 ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ 💙
Can’t get enough of East Falls in the snow? Don’t miss “UP THE NUTS,” Russ Gardner’s charming & nostalgic post about winter as a neighborhood kid here in the 50’s.
Video from last year…