HARRISBURG, Pa. — Wolf Administration officials provided an update on a winter storm affecting much of the commonwealth Wednesday and Thursday.
Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Randy Padfield, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration Melissa Batula and State Meteorologist Jeff Jumper provided an update on preparedness, road closures and maintaining public safety during this bout of severe winter weather.
PEMA works with county emergency management personnel to monitor unmet local needs during inclement weather affecting travel, utilities, and shelter.
PEMA encourages Pennsylvanians to access www.ready.pa.gov for free downloadable emergency kit checklists for the home and car. PEMA is also ensuring the safe delivery of COVID-19 vaccine, which was successfully delivered to an additional seven hospitals this morning.
“This is a complicated storm system, and the impact of it will vary greatly depending on where you are in the state,” said Padfield. “We will work throughout the night to make sure that our county partners have what they need to keep citizens safe, and we’ll support our partner agencies like the PA Turnpike and Department of Transportation to ensure that people who need to travel will be able to do so as safely as possible.”
“We urge the public to stay home unless travel is absolutely necessary,” Batula said. “Fewer vehicles on the road allows our teams to focus on keeping the roads open for critical movements, not only of the vaccine, but also our emergency responders, medical professionals, and those needing these services.”
In response to today’s major winter storm, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are implementing restrictions on trucks and other vehicles on certain roadways around the state.
Restrictions will be phased in as the storm progresses, and updated information will be issued regionally. Subscribe to regional PennDOT updates by visiting www.PennDOT.gov and click on “Regional Offices.”
Restrictions will be communicated via variable message boards, the 511PA traveler information website at www.511PA.com and smartphone apps. Motorists can also sign up for alerts on www.511PA.com by clicking on “Personal Alerts” in the left-hand menu.
Speed limits will be restricted to 45 mph on restricted roadways for all vehicles while the vehicle restrictions are in place, and commercial vehicles not affected by the restrictions must move to the right lane. Additional speed restrictions on other interstates could be added depending on changing conditions.
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.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 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 app 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 safe winter travel, an emergency kit checklist and information on PennDOT’s winter operations including a video, visit www.PennDOT.gov/winter. Additional winter driving and other highway safety information is available at www.PennDOT.gov/safety.
Follow the conversation by using #PAWinter on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PennDOTNews and visit the department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PennsylvaniaDepartmentofTransportation
State meteorologist Jeff Jumper advised Pennsylvanians on how to stay safe amid this storm that is expected to bring heavy, wet snow.
“We are no stranger to snowstorms, but parts of the state have not seen this much snow in two to three years,” Jumper said. “Be sure to dress in layers, wear a hat, and take frequent breaks while digging out from the snow today into tomorrow to avoid overexertion.”