Pennsylvania – If you’re packing up the car for some Thanksgiving travel today, be prepared for snow squalls and whiteout conditions.
Check the weather forecasts, but snow is predicted off-and-on until 6 p.m. tonight, especially for the I-80 corridor.
If possible, reschedule your travel so you’re not driving in the snow. However, if you do run into a snow squall, it’s going to be almost impossible for you and other drivers to see.
It’s important that if you end up in whiteout conditions, do not immediately stop your car in the middle of the highway. Instead, slow down, put on your four-way flashers, and pull off to the side of the road. Do not get out of your vehicle.
Of course, you should have your seatbelt on anytime that you are travelling, and slow down in bad weather conditions.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, PennDOT, and the Pennsylvania State Police offer these winter weather driving tips:
- Monitor weather forecasts and www.511PA.com, PennDOT’s 24-hour, seven days-a-week travel information center.
- Slow down while driving when snow is falling and always wear a seat belt. Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicles you are following.
- During squalls or whiteouts, do not stop on the roadway. Come to a complete stop only when you can safely get as far off the road as possible or when there is a safe area to do so.
- After you are stopped safely off of the roadway, turn on your four-way flashers and stay with your vehicle.
PennDOT is prepared, with plow trucks and other equipment ready. Salt, anti-skid and other materials are in good supply. Crews will be working around the clock if necessary to keep roads safe and passable. But remember that squalls happen suddenly and can severely limit visibility.
Motorists are reminded that roadways will not be free of snow while precipitation is falling. With freezing temperatures, roads that look wet may be icy, and extra caution is needed when approaching bridges and highway ramps where ice can form without warning. Motorists should leave plenty of space – six car lengths – when following a truck that is plowing or spreading winter materials.
While PennDOT recommends not traveling during winter storms, motorists are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” by checking conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 850 traffic cameras. Users can also see plow truck statuses and travel alerts along a specific route using the “Check My Route” tool.
511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
PennDOT reminds motorists to pack an emergency kit for their vehicles. A basic kit should include non-perishable food, water, blanket, small shovel and warm clothes. When preparing an emergency kit, motorists should consider special needs of passengers such as baby food, pet supplies or medications and pack accordingly.
PennDOT and PMEA also remind citizens that downloadable materials, including home and car emergency kit checklists and emergency plan templates, are available at Ready.PA.gov.
For more information on winter driving and PennDOT operations, visit www.penndot.gov/winter.