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Pennsylvania City Gets Record-Breaking 56.5 Inches Of Snow


The city of Erie, Pa., got snow for Christmas. That's not unusual for Erie, so Lora Ormsbee didn't think much of it.

LORA ORMSBEE: I had left yesterday morning to go to my aunt's around 9:30 and the roads were clear. Everything was fine.

SIEGEL: But then it kept snowing and snowing.

ORMSBEE: By 1 o'clock we were digging our cars out of the driveway.


Snow piled on snow.

ORMSBEE: I don't even live a mile away from there, and it took me 45 minutes to get home. It was falling two to three inches an hour.

SHAPIRO: By this morning, more than 56 inches had fallen on Erie. That is an all-time two-day record for Pennsylvania, says the National Weather Service. The previous record was 44 inches in 1958.

SIEGEL: The city of Erie issued a state of emergency, asking people to stay put. But not everyone's listening.

PETER MASS: Good afternoon, Ferrier's True Value Hardware Store and Fireplace Shoppe (ph).

SIEGEL: Peter Mass went to work today.

MASS: Here in sunny, warm Erie, Pa. (laughter).

SHAPIRO: Mass said being at the hardware store was important.

MASS: We're here because, you know, we need to be here for everybody. We need to get the salt, the sand so people can get dug out and get to where they need to be.

SHAPIRO: Outside, trucks have already plowed West 26th, forming steep walls of snow on either side of the street.

MASS: A place called Tim Hortons that's, like, right next door to us, and you can't see their signs on the front of the building. That's how high the snow is over here.

SIEGEL: If he had to estimate...

MASS: There's probably an 8-foot pile of snow in front of our store.

SIEGEL: And he's not the only one working. Scott Anderson clocked in early Christmas morning and was still going this afternoon.

SCOTT ANDERSON: I've been in the truck for about 30 hours now.

SIEGEL: Anderson is the A in A&G Property Management. And for him, snow is work and work is money.

ANDERSON: I mean, in a way, you look forward to it. You don't want, you know, almost five feet to fall all at once. That kind of takes away from the fun of it.

SHAPIRO: That's one way to look at it. Another...

ANDERSON: It's chaos (laughter) right now. We canceled off most of our Christmas just because of the storm. Got to go home for an hour with my kids to open Christmas presents in the morning, and then back to the truck.

SHAPIRO: Anderson says that's what's kept him going the past two days - an hour with the family, four gas station stops and coffee.

ANDERSON: Lots and lots of coffee.

SIEGEL: As for Lora Ormsbee this morning...

ORMSBEE: Well, I took one look at the car and grabbed a shovel and went outside and shoveled, like, one line behind my car and said uh-uh (ph), this isn't happening.

SIEGEL: But on Friday, she needs to get out to get on a plane for Miami. She's going to see the Bills versus the Dolphins, she hopes.

ORMSBEE: I really want to go to Miami now. I just may not want to come back.

SIEGEL: The snow over Erie is expected to slow and stop by either Wednesday or Thursday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.