Pa. digs out as high, frigid winds settle in

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HAMBURG, Pa. (AP) — The first winter storm of 2014 scattered up to 8 inches in some parts of Pennsylvania as residents were barely pushing away the snow and ice before frigid temperatures and strong, bone-chilling winds set in.


The state’s biggest school districts, including Scranton, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Allentown and Reading, canceled classes Friday. Schools in Erie, where heavy snow is routine, remained open.


Northern and eastern Pennsylvania saw 6 to 8 inches of snow, while southern and western Pennsylvania saw 2 to 5 inches, the National Weather Service said.


In Philadelphia, dozens of flights were canceled Friday at Philadelphia International Airport. Hours before the storm reached the southeastern part of the state Thursday, a worker died at a suburban Philadelphia storage facility when a 100-foot pile of salt toppled over and trapped the man, who was working a backhoe.


Forecasters warned that gusts of up to 30 mph Friday could bring wind chills to minus 25 degrees, cold enough to cause frostbite in about 30 minutes or less. The National Weather Service said people should dress warmly to avoid hypothermia and cover all exposed skin.


Weekend temperatures were forecast to rise above freezing, but pre-dawn temperatures were in single digits Friday morning.


Bobby Hamm, 72, wore a full-face mask and hood as he used a snow blower in Hamburg, about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia, to clear not only his own sidewalk and driveway, but his neighbors’ too. One of his neighbors, Tom Delancey, recently had shoulder surgery, and the others are in their mid-80s.


“I’d be lost without my neighbors,” said Delancey, watching Hamm work. “I can’t take care of this, and they’re doing it for me, and I appreciate it so much.”


Though the thermometer only read 10 degrees, Hamm seemed none the worse for wear.


“Really, when you’re doing this, it isn’t cold at all,” said Hamm, his white whiskers the only visible part of his face. “The handlebars on my snow blower are heated so my hands stay warm. I’m dressed warm, and I like winter and I like snow.”


Nearby, Alicha Kutz, a 44-year-old teacher who had the day off from school, shoveled out her husband’s plowed-in car so he could get to work.


“I love four seasons, and this is just a part of it,” Kutz said, but “I really wish I would’ve bought a home with a garage.”


Kara Hyde, walking to her job at a Philadelphia advertising firm, said she didn’t mind that her 15- to 20-minute walk was taking a bit longer Friday morning.


“Some sidewalks are shoveled, others aren’t,” she said. “But it’s a pretty walk through a historic area of Philadelphia, so I don’t mind it.”


John Kadunce, who was gassing up at a convenience store in Creighton, about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, was on his way in to his job supervising maintenance at a suburban Pittsburgh office park at 5 a.m., about an hour earlier than usual, to plow the parking lots and shovel the walks. He was unhappy with the condition of the main road.


“They should really salt this road here,” Kadunce said. “A truck just went by and it’s not in very good shape.”


Highways were plowed, with slushy or icy passing lanes, and many secondary roads were plowed but icy. The state highway department urged drivers to avoid unnecessary travel but lifted reduced speed limits on most major roadways in eastern and central Pennsylvania. A 45 mph limit remained in place late Friday morning on Interstates 80 and 84.


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Associated Press reporters Joe Mandak in Creighton, Pa., Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pa., and Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia contributed to this report.


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