The fourth nor'easter of this month struck Philadelphia in two waves — first on Tuesday and second on Wednesday — and in response, many offices, schools, and businesses were forced to close.
The snow, which began falling Tuesday – the official first day of spring – accumulated throughout the day Wednesday and continued into the evening. Forecasters indicated that the heaviest snow began to taper off at 8 p.m. and stopped entirely in the early hours of Thursday morning, leaving behind between six and 12 inches of snow.
Academic institutions extending beyond the city, including Penn, Drexel University, Temple University, Lehigh University, and Villanova University, suspended normal operations on Wednesday. The Philadelphia School District also shut down for the day.
Various businesses on campus like Metropolitan Bakery closed for the day, while some like the CVS at 3401 Walnut St. closed early in light of the weather.
At Penn, students, faculty, and staff largely stayed home, as the University suspended normal operations on Wednesday. But aside from "essential University staff and all UPHS physicians and staff," who were required to report to work according to Penn's announcement, there were students still hard at work, needing to make assignment deadlines, and some needing to take midterms.
For College freshman Luis Ortiz Juarez and the other three students in "Religion and Evolution," the snow day did little to effect their exam schedule. Rather than postpone the midterm scheduled for Wednesday, Juarez said his professor asked them to take the exam online.
"Our professor told us essentially 'don't cheat and do it' so we can move on from the material," Jaurez said. "It was a little annoying because he told us to take it between noon and 1 [p.m.] and I wanted to have lunch at that time, but I am happy to get it over with."
Many students had assignments still due today as well.
Wharton senior Daniel Yan said his weekly statistics problem set was still due today despite the snowy conditions outside.
“It’s understandable since it’s an electronic assignment, but if it had been pushed a day that would have been awesome,” Yan said.
Although she had a quiz rescheduled until tomorrow, Nursing freshman Sophie Caplan was similarly required to electronically submit her weekly assignment for her anatomy course.
"It's definitely annoying, but our curriculum is pretty straightforward and rigid, so I am not surprised," Caplan said.
College junior Natalie Breuel said that her professor requested that her class "watch a few videos" in light of her mythology lecture being cancelled for the day. As a joke, she posted a photo in Penn’s notorious Facebook group, Official Unofficial Penn Squirrel Catching Club, reacting to an e-mail from her professor titled "snow day assignment."
"I just made a dumb meme about it because it is a snow day," she wrote in a message to The Daily Pennsylvanian. "The assignment was actually very reasonable."
The storm also coincided with a multitude of “Teach-In” events that were organized across campus during the week. All of the events scheduled for Wednesday were either canceled or postponed to a later date. According to the teach-in website, all Thursday events are still on.
In the below-freezing conditions, the City of Philadelphia also stripped down to essential staff and implemented an emergency protocol – known as “Code Blue” – taking special measures to transport people who are homeless to safe indoor spaces.
The regional transportation authority, SEPTA, issued a warning against unnecessary travel starting late Tuesday afternoon and lasting throughout Wednesday. SEPTA's Regional Rail is also operating in accordance with the "Severe Storm Schedule" on Wednesday.
The Philadelphia School District announced that schools would have a delayed opening on Thursday. The city will remain under a winter storm warning until 2 a.m. Thursday morning.
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