CLEARFIELD – Winter weather and the potential for heavy snow is expected through tomorrow for much of the state, including areas of northcentral Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is urging motorists to avoid unnecessary travel but those who must head out will encounter the following conditions:
• Speed restrictions of 45 mph on Interstate 80 in Clearfield, Centre, and Clinton counties;
• Speed restriction of 45 mph on Interstate 99 in Centre County;
• Speed restriction of 45 mph on Route 322 in Mifflin County (Seven Mountains);
• Right lane only truck restriction on Interstate 80 in Clearfield, Centre, and Clinton counties, Interstate 99 in Centre County, and Route 322 (Seven Mountains) in Mifflin County.
• Ban on tandem truck trailers, empty trailers, towed trailers, buses, recreational vehicles, and motorcycles on Interstate 80 in Clearfield, Centre, and Clinton counties, Interstate 99 in Centre County, and Route 322 in Mifflin County (Seven Mountains);
All restrictions will go into effect at 10:00 p.m.
Sudden and heavy snow showers, which can cause whiteout conditions, are one of the biggest challenges that motorists, including PennDOT plow truck drivers, face during the winter. Drivers need to be alert for sudden, heavy snow that can limit your sight distance while driving and cause roads to become snow covered.
If motorists do encounter snow or whiteouts while traveling, PennDOT offers this advice:
• Slow down gradually and drive at a speed that suits the conditions.
• Turn on your headlights.
• Stay in your lane.
• Increase your following distance.
• Stay alert, keep looking as far ahead as possible and be patient.
• Reduce in-car distractions since your full attention is required.
• Use defroster and wipers.
• Keep windows and mirrors free of snow and ice.
• During whiteouts, 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.
• Do not stop in the flow of traffic since this could create a chain-reaction collision.
• Do not pass a vehicle moving slowly or speed up to get away from a vehicle that is following too closely.
• Always buckle up and never drink and drive.
PennDOT is prepared for the expected storm, with plow trucks and other equipment ready. Salt, anti-skid and other materials are in good supply. Crews will be working around the clock to keep roads safe and passable.
Motorists are reminded that roadways will not be free of snow while precipitation is falling. 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. 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 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 770 traffic cameras.
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 take into account special needs of passengers such as baby food, pet supplies or medications and pack accordingly.
PennDOT also reminds citizens that downloadable materials, including home and car emergency kit checklists and emergency plan templates, are available at www.ReadyPA.org or by calling 1-888-9-READYPA. Citizens can find information about getting involved in local emergency response efforts and other volunteer opportunities through the Web site or the toll-free line.
For more information on winter driving and PennDOT operations, visit www.penndot.gov/winter.
For PennDOT regional information on Twitter, follow www.twitter.com/511PAStateCOLL