Gov. Wolf to Pennsylvanians: Please Be Aware of Winter Weather, Avoid Travel Amid Forecasted Snow and Ice
HARRISBURG, Pa. – With a winter weather forecast of snow and ice making for treacherous travel, especially this evening and overnight, Governor Tom Wolf is asking Pennsylvanians to follow local forecasts and consider avoiding or reducing travel.
“Safety is paramount during these ongoing winter storms,” Gov. Wolf said. “State agencies, including PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), and local municipalities are working to prepare roads and clear snow and melt ice to allow for necessary travel, but the more we stay off the roads, the easier their jobs will be and the safer we will make our state.”
Snowfall rates can briefly reach an inch or two per hour this evening and tonight, in addition to heavy sleet north of I-80. For areas generally south of I-80 and into the Poconos, ice accumulation may exceed ¼”, especially in higher elevations. This could lead to sporadic utility outages.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) advised Pennsylvanians to write down, print or save toll-free outage hotlines for your electric utility and/or your natural gas utility, which are listed on your monthly bills and posted on the PUC website. The PUC also encourages Pennsylvanians to call their utility company if an outage occurs and not to assume someone else has already done so.
The weather system will split the state from northwest to the southeast. Snow is expected in the northwest and more of a mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain are expected as weather moves across the state to the southeast. While most of the precipitation will end around daybreak Tuesday, the impacts will linger into the morning hours, which include many slippery surfaces.
“People need to be cautious as they head out during this storm because conditions will change over time,” said Randy Padfield, PEMA director. “PEMA and our state agency partners are ready for another winter storm and we encourage motorists to do the same.”
Motorists can check 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 950 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available through a free smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
For more information on PennDOT’s winter preparations and additional winter-driving resources for motorists, visit the department’s winter website, www.PennDOT.gov/winter. The PA Turnpike is advising motorists of complete, systemwide vehicle restrictions slated to go into effect at 6 p.m. this evening.
As of 6 p.m. today, Tier 1 of the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan will be in effect the entire length of Interstate 76 (PA Turnpike’s mainline) and all extensions. In the west those include Turnpike 43 (Mon-Fayette Expressway), Turnpike 66 (Greensburg Bypass), Turnpike 576 (Southern Beltway), Toll 376 (Beaver Valley Expressway). In the east that includes Interstate 276, Interstate 95 and Interstate 476 (Northeastern Extension). More details on Turnpike restrictions can be found here.
In our local region, PennDOT has restored the speed limits on Interstate 80 in Mercer and Venango counties. However, speed reductions remain in place on other sections of Interstates 79 and 80, as well as additional roadways in the southwestern region.
Locally, a Winter Storm Warning remains in effect for Mercer, Venango, Forest, Lawrence, Butler, Clarion, and Jefferson counties.
Heavy mixed precipitation is expected later tonight and into the early morning hours Tuesday, with additional snow accumulations of 3 to 6 inches possible and ice accumulations of one to two tenths of an inch expected in our local area.
“I ask everyone to heed the weather forecast, listen to directions from emergency officials, and plan accordingly,” Gov. Wolf said.
If homeowners or renters are having trouble keeping up with home energy bills, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides assistance for home heating bills so Pennsylvanians can stay warm and safe during the winter months. The 2020-21 LIHEAP season runs through April 9, 2021. Pennsylvanians can apply for LIHEAP and other public assistance programs online at www.compass.state.pa.us.
Those who prefer to submit paper applications can print from the website, pick one up at a local County Assistance Office (CAO) while they are closed, or request an application by phone at 1-800-692-7462 and mail it to their CAO or place it in a CAO’s secure drop box, if available. Any Pennsylvanians who is having trouble paying utility bills is encouraged to apply for LIHEAP to help cover these balances even while the utility shut-off moratorium remains in place.
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