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Thinking Spring? Mother Nature Says Think Again
Written by Kelly Chandler, Staff Writer

         While this year's barrage of snowfall and winter weather has many longing for spring, Monday's approximately 8 inches of snowfall in the greater Upper Perkiomen Valley unfortunately came as no surprise.  And Wednesday's early morning mix of snow, sleet and ice also proved to be par for the course.

        Downed trees and icy secondary roads were drivers' biggest threats during the morning rush hour.  Electric and phone service outages were reported in Red Hill, Green Lane, Upper Salford and neighboring areas Wednesday morning.

        "It makes me want to move to Florida," said Harleysville resident Laura Walters, laughing.  "Is it too much to ask to not have to deal with snow like every other day?"   

        "It's safe to say that I thoroughly enjoy the snow, but not all the things that come along with it," said Alejandra Nestler of Red Hill.  "While it creates a beautiful serene image…shoveling comes to mind as a back-aching task, as well as the possibility of driving in it and fearing the inevitable accident. So as they say, you got to take the good with the bad.  I try and look at the positive side instead of the negative.  Let it snow."

        Area schools were closed Monday and Wednesday, with many districts opting for a two-hour delay on Tuesday to give road crews ample time to make rural roadways passable. 

        In the Upper Perkiomen School District, Substitute Superintendent Dr. Fran Leskowicz said a fifth snow day taken Wednesday will push back the last day of school until June 13.  The district had three snow days built into the calendar.  The last day of school was scheduled for June 11.

        If the snowy weather continues, Leskowicz said the district will have to look at taking away days during spring break, which starts April 16 or resorting to switching a March in-service day to a student day.

        He said right now, while students are enjoying the time off school, it's making learning difficult.  There is no continuity to what they are doing in their classes.  

        "Actually right now it's a disruption to the educational process," he said.  "We all like a day off here or there but then we have to tack it onto the end of the year.  This week will be a tough week educationally."

Schools aren't the only ones being impacted by repeated winter storms, area road crews have also been left to deal with a lack of available salt.

        East Greenville Borough, which previously borrowed salt from Upper Hanover Township, is in an all-too-familiar position for area municipalities who were left unprepared for this winter's deluge of bad weather.

        Borough Manager Jim Fry said the borough just received 46 tons of salt from a private company, enough to get them through Wednesday's storm and an additional storm, but will have to look for more if Mother Nature keeps dumping the white stuff on the region.

Fry said the borough has received and gone through roughly 160 tons of salt this season.

        "When it starts the guys go out early to get a head start," Fry said, noting the hard work of the road crew to stay on top of road conditions.  

Pennsburg borough officials also reported being low on salt supplies, as was the case in Milford Township which had to borrow supplies from a neighboring municipality.

        "We're scraping bottom of the barrel.  We are getting close to running out and we have four to eight weeks to get through to the other side," Milford Manager Jeff Vey said.  Vey noted the township has had confirmed orders for salt for weeks, with promises that deliveries are coming that never show up.

        The weather is also taking its toll on homeowners who are paying premiums for oil.  Home heating oil prices started around $3.79 a gallon from area dealers this week.  

        "We've been busy.  The phone usually starts ringing at 4 a.m. and I'm on the phone until 9 at night," said Rachel Magargal of Bucks Run Oil of Hellertown.  "With how cold and windy it's been, people are running out.  I get several phone calls a day from people who have run out.  It's hard because there is such a need and oil is so expensive."

        According to the National Weather Service, the end isn't in sight.  A chance of snow is being forecasted for Saturday and snow is likely on Sunday.  No estimate of an accumulation was available as of press time.     





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