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Deteriorating Weather Conditions Prompt School, Business Closures

Rapidly deteriorating weather conditions that included a one-hour temperature drop of nearly 10 degrees and accumulating snow in places prompted some area schools and businesses to close early Friday.

Est. Read Time: 5 mins
Wind Chill Snow Fountain Hill Saucon

Above, the American flag flutters in a stiff wind outside Friedman’s Service Center at Broadway and N. Clewell Street in Fountain Hill Friday. By 12:30 p.m., temperatures had fallen from the mid 50s to the low 30s, as is indicated by the reading of 31 degrees displayed on the gas station’s electric sign. Forecasters predict it will drop to around 6 Friday night, when dangerous wind chills are predicted. Up to an inch-and-a-half of snow may also accumulate before the storm system departs.

Rapidly deteriorating weather conditions that included a one-hour temperature drop of nearly 10 degrees and accumulating snow in places prompted some area schools and businesses to close early Friday.

Although the temperature was in the mid 50s early Friday morning, by noon it had fallen to near freezing, and rain was mixing with or changing to snow across the Lehigh Valley.

National Weather Service forecasters issued a winter weather advisory for Northampton and Lehigh counties in effect through 6 p.m. Friday evening for up to an inch-and-a-half of snow, but the biggest danger will likely be from falling temperatures, a statement said.

“Snow…will fall in a brief period, leading to a quick drop in visibility and icy conditions,” the NWS office at Mount Holly, N.J., said. The combination of reduced visibility and the rapid freezing of any standing water left on roadways from the heavy rain that fell overnight could create hazardous driving conditions Friday afternoon and evening.

West winds will gust up to 55 mph, forecasters said, which could lead to power outages.

Winds gusting at up to 55 mph meant that lightweight objects such as empty garbage cans were ending up in streets around the area. Above, a plastic trash can blocks Long Street between N. Clewell and N. Hoffert streets in Fountain Hill borough. Rapidly falling temperatures were also expected to freeze any standing water remaining on roadways following Thursday night’s heavy rain, which could lead to slippery road conditions Friday afternoon and evening across the Lehigh Valley.

With temperatures expected to fall into the single digits by late Friday evening, the NWS has also issued a wind chill advisory for the Lehigh Valley for wind chill values as low as 25 below zero. That advisory is in effect through 1 p.m. Saturday, which is Christmas Eve.

As many stores close early Dec. 24, Friday is the last full day of shopping before Christmas, which meant that any weather-related business closings could hamper last-minute gift-buying efforts.

The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley–an outdoor lifestyle center located in Upper Saucon Township–announced that the center itself would be closing at noon Friday “due to inclement weather.” Individual stores, restaurants and other establishments may remain open later than that, however, so customers should call ahead to verify their hours.

Due to the Promenade Shops’ closure at noon, Photos with Santa and horse-drawn carriage rides were also canceled for the remainder of the day Friday.

Many of the school closures announced Friday were in northern Northampton and Lehigh counties, which witnessed an earlier drop in temperatures and changeover to snow. However, by mid-day a number of districts had announced early dismissals or other changes due to the weather. Palisades School District–a rural upper Bucks County district that is more reliant on busing than many neighboring districts–closed Friday, and Salisbury Township School District canceled transportation for the day. Note: For other updates on school and business closings, visit the WFMZ Stormcenter online.

Above, traffic including a school bus is obscured by falling and blowing snow on Broadway in Fountain Hill borough Friday afternoon. A number of school districts in the area closed Friday or altered their regularly scheduled transportation of students due to the deteriorating weather conditions.

The National Weather Service urged motorists to use caution driving and to plan for slippery conditions into Friday night, when many people will be departing for Christmas vacations. Anyone venturing outside in the falling temperatures should dress appropriately, by wearing multiple layers, forecasters also said, noting that conditions Friday evening could lead “frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.”

A wind advisory is in effect through 7 p.m. Friday for the Lehigh Valley, and late Friday morning PPL said it was already responding to power outages throughout the area.

“Our team, along with crews from our peer utilities, are responding to power outages and will continue working until all customers are restored,” the power company tweeted.

Power outages can be reported to PPL online. According to PPL’s Outage Center map, at around noon roughly 18,500 customers were without electricity in eastern Pennsylvania.

For the most part outages as of that hour in the southern Lehigh, southern Northampton and upper Bucks County area were isolated, but nearly 100 households in Salisbury Township near Fountain Hill were affected by the loss of electricity, per the map.

Whether crews will be available at full capacity to repair outages over the holiday weekend was unclear, but without electricity, many households will likely experience a rather unpleasant Christmas.

The National Weather Service’s bone-chilling forecast for the Lehigh Valley calls for a low of six degrees Friday night, a high of 16 degrees on Saturday, a low of 12 Saturday night–meaning Santa and his reindeer will really have to bundle up–and high of 25 Christmas Day. The forecast temperatures are 10 to 20 degrees below normal for this time of year.

The only bright spot–for some–may be that if Friday’s light snow isn’t all blown away by Sunday morning, the area will awake to its first white Christmas in a number of years.

Above, snow falls on the borough Christmas tree and other festive holiday decorations outside the Fountain Hill municipal complex along Cherokee Street in the borough Friday afternoon.


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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