snowdelays
Credit: Julio Sosa

The intense storm that took over Philadelphia and the Northeast region left students leaving for spring break with disrupted trip plans and flight delays. 

While the worst of the storm had passed by the morning of March 3, many Penn students continued to grapple with the repercussions of the heavy precipitation and unfortunate conditions. Many scrambled to sort out their travel plans while others got stuck on commutes home.    

Over 540 flights departing from and arriving to Philadelphia International Airport were canceled on March 2. All Amtrak services between Washington, D.C. and Boston were also shut down that same day, along with most SEPTA Regional Rail lines, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer. The storm also wreaked havoc across the city as travelers were left stranded at terminals and train stations.

Wharton junior Michael Li was about to catch a train to John F. Kennedy International Airport from Penn Station on early Friday morning when he received an email from American Airlines that his flight to London was cancelled. Because the airline did not give him any additional details on alternative plans, Li said that he had to stay up all night calling customer service and was put on hold for 50 minutes at one point. 

While Li was able to reschedule his flight to Sunday morning, he said that the delay disrupted the rest of his travel plans. 

"I had a connecting flight to Amsterdam before London and was planning on staying there for the weekend," Li said. "I felt kind of helpless because there was a lack of communication and sometimes the only person you could get a hold of couldn't even help you." 

College juniors Brendan Lilley, Tom Console, and Sam Smallzman planned to fly to Nassau, Bahamas Saturday morning when their flight from New York City was also canceled. Lilley said the airline agency JetBlue notified them of the cancellation while they were on the way to JFK.

“They didn’t give us any notification or warning that the flight might get canceled until an hour before,” Console said.

While the group had originally planned to arrive in the Bahamas on Saturday with a group of 20 students in their fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, they were left to find an alternative route to get to their destination. 

Because their original flight was rescheduled to Tuesday, Lilley, Console, and Smallzman decided to leave for Boston on Saturday morning and then get on a plane to Orlando, Florida, in order to take connecting flight there to the Bahamas the next day. 

Students traveling internationally were not the only ones affected.

Returning home to New Jersey, College sophomore Michelle Lu had planned to take the SEPTA Trenton line late in the afternoon of March 2 when she was told the train was shut down. She waited for another 40 minutes until she realized the line would likely be closed for the entire night and returned to campus. 

Lu chose to take a bus instead the next morning, allowing her to return home.

In hindsight, Lu said that the train delay did not affect the rest of her Spring Break, saying that she "was just going for fun before [her] flight out of Philadelphia," and calling the delay "a minor inconvenience." 

Late Friday afternoon, the Division of Public Safety sent a weather alert informing students that the University was still open and operating on a normal schedule.

While Friday morning only showed light winds, the weather quickly intensified in the afternoon, reaching sustained winds up to 35 mph and gusts past 60 mph. Conditions also mirrored blizzard-like visibility levels, with two to four inches of wet snow and roads filled with slush.

Although most transportation services were shut down across Philadelphia, Boltbus only canceled buses departing from and arriving to Boston, where the nor’easter storm hit particularly hard. Amtrak trains north of Boston continued normal operations.

According to the Inquirer, all the seats in the restaurants at 30th Street Station were filled by travelers, leaving some commuters to sit on the floor on March 2. After learning their trains were canceled, people searching for Ubers were reportedly met with increased surge prices.

Power outages and multiple accidents also struck across the city. A tree reportedly fell on a SEPTA bus along the Schuylkill Expressway during the afternoon on March 2, according to NBC.

“We see widespread, extensive damage throughout the area,” PECO energy spokeswoman Liz Williamson told the Inquirer.

Ahead of Saturday, Amtrak announced on Twitter that due to “severe weather,” they would resume modified operations, canceling 12 train lines and adjusting the departure station for several trains. Several PHL flights have also been canceled, primarily in the early morning. Most SEPTA trains are expected to resume, with only the West Trenton Line being suspended.


Weather forecasters are reporting that Philadelphia residents may have to face the effects of another winter storm starting on Monday night moving into Tuesday. 

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