Nor'Easter in forecast: Motorists Advised to Limit travel

A good time to stay

Motorists are advised to limit travel Sunday, when a Nor’Easter could bring snow to South Central Pennsylvania.

Franklin County is expected to get between 3-6 inches, but National Weather Service meteorologists say those totals could range from a very small amount of snow to up to a foot.

Motorists advised to limit

Meanwhile, PennDOT is already making plans to restrict travel on the major roads across South-Central Pennsylvania.

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Effective at noon on Sunday, January 31, vehicle restrictions are anticipated on the following roadways:

  • Interstate 70 in both directions from the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76) to the Maryland state line;
  • The entire length of Interstate 78 in both directions;
  • Interstate 80 from Interstate 81 to the New Jersey state line;
  • The entire length of Interstates 81, 83, 84 and 380 in both directions;

Additional speed and vehicle restrictions on these and other interstates could be added, depending on changing conditions.

READ: Past storms, weather warnings

The following vehicles are not permitted on affected roadways:

  • Tractors without trailers and tractors towing unloaded or lightly loaded enclosed trailers, open trailers or tank trailers;
  • Tractors towing unloaded or lightly loaded tandem trailers;
  • Enclosed cargo delivery trucks that meet the definition of a CMV;
  • Passenger vehicles (cars, SUV’s, pickup trucks, etc.) towing trailers;
  • Recreational vehicles/motorhomes;
  • School buses, commercial buses and motor coaches not carrying chains or Alternate Traction Devices (ATD’s); and
  • Motorcycles.

Restrictions will be communicated on variable message boards, the 511PA traveler information website and smartphone apps. Motorists can also sign up for alerts on “Personal Alerts” in the left-hand menu.

PennDOT urges motorists to avoid travel during the storm if possible. If travel is necessary, use caution, reduce speeds and be aware of changing weather conditions.

High winds and freezing temperatures are expected during the storm;. Motorists should be aware of blowing and drifting snow, which can cause icy areas on roadways, including overpasses and bridges. With freezing temperatures, roads that look wet may actually be icy. Extra caution is needed when approaching bridges and highway ramps where ice can form without warning.

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.

Preparing for emergencies

Drivers should prepare or restock emergency kits with items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger and a small snow shovel. The kits should be tailored to specific needs such as baby supplies, extra medication and pet supplies.

When winter weather occurs, drivers should extra cautious around operating snow-removal equipment. When encountering a plow truck, drivers should:

  • Stay at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck.
  • Be alert since plow trucks generally travel much more slowly than other traffic.
  • When a plow truck is traveling toward you, move as far away from the center of the road as is safely possible. Remember snow can obscure the actual snow plow width.
  • Never try to pass or get between several trucks plowing side by side in a “plow train.” The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control; creating a hazard for nearby vehicles.
  • Never travel next to a plow truck since there are blind spots where the operator can’t see; and they can occasionally be moved sideways when hitting drifts or heavy snowpack.
  • Keep your lights on to help the operator better see your vehicle. Also remember that under Pennsylvania state law, vehicle lights must be on every time a vehicle’s wipers are on due to inclement weather.

Last winter in Pennsylvania, preliminary data shows 151 crashes resulting in three fatalities and 81 injuries on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways where aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding or making careless lane changes were factors.

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