Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration reminded motorists to avoid travel if possible and stay safe during a winter storm that will bring heavy snow to the western half of the state and a mix of snow, sleet and rain to much of the eastern half.
“This is a complex storm that will make travel difficult, if not downright treacherous, at times during the overnight hours and into Monday morning,” said Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Executive Deputy Director Jeff Thomas. “PEMA will be in close contact with our county emergency management and state agency partners to stay aware of conditions and provide help when needed.”
According to the National Weather Service, most areas will see snow as the storm system enters the state Sunday afternoon. The heaviest snow will fall in the western half of the state, with snow totals decreasing to the east where more sleet and rain are expected. As the steady snow tapers to snow showers on Monday, a strong west wind with gusts up to 50mph may create some blowing snow and scattered utility outages.
PEMA activated the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center (CRCC) at 3 p.m. Sunday with staffing support from PennDOT, PSP, PA Turnpike and PA National Guard, with other agencies on standby as needed.
“While our teams at PennDOT and the PA Turnpike are out in force working to keep roads safe and passable, it is truly critical that you avoid travel during the storm if you can,” said Acting Executive Deputy Secretary Melissa Batula. “But if you must drive, please slow down and give our plows – and other vehicles – plenty of space.”
“This storm presents a challenge for first responders who need to battle these same dangerous conditions to get to people who need help,” said PA State Police Lt. Adam Reed. “But at the end of the day, we want the same thing you do, which is to get home safely to our loved ones. Please take every precaution you can if you need to travel, including having emergency supplies in your vehicle.”
PennDOT and the PA Turnpike Commission anticipate implementing various speed and vehicle restrictions, beginning this afternoon. PennDOT will pre-treat roadways where necessary ahead of the storm to help prevent ice from forming a bond with the pavement during the early stages of a storm. However, salt is not a silver bullet, and drivers may encounter icy spots on the roadway. With freezing temperatures, roads that look wet may actually be icy, and extra caution is needed when approaching bridges and highway ramps where ice can form without warning.
“Our agency will work with our state agency partners to assess roadway conditions and implement or remove restrictions as needed,” said PA Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton. “We ask that motorists help us keep highways safe by abiding by those restrictions.”
To help make decisions regarding winter travel, 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.comOpens In A New Window. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 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 alertsOpens In A New Window.