Snow Creates Big Headache; Intense Cold Will Follow
Saturday forecasts for the massive winter storm expected to wrap up early this afternoon made slightly lower snowfall predictions, but still promised a walloping from bad weather.
Meteorologists initially predicted 6 to 10 inches of snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain at times, but the National Weather Service was calling for 5 to 6 inches as of late Saturday afternoon.
Still, Accuweather said the storm was gaining strength over the Midwest and would “clobber the Northeast into Sunday with significant, widespread impacts.”
As snow began falling in Wilkes-Barre late in the afternoon, city plow trucks were already out spreading salt over major roadways and bridges in preparation for the coming onslaught.
“We are out now, pre-salting hills and bridges,” director of Operations Butch Frati said shortly after 4 p.m.
Frati expected Department of Public Works crews could be on the road for 24 hours straight, working staggered shifts, and he urged the public to stay home if possible.
A state of emergency that Gov. Tom Wolf declared starting at noon Saturday remains in effect until noon today. Travel speeds are restricted to a maximum 45 mph on all state highways during that time.
In addition to staying off the roads when possible, AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends checking your vehicle’s tire pressure, as tires need more air when it’s cold. Proper cold weather tire pressure can be found in the vehicle manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door, not on the tire itself, AAA said in a news release.
Local temperatures were expected to fall from the mid 30s Saturday night to around 13 degrees by 5 p.m. today, with wind chill values as low as -4 degrees.
AAA also recommends keeping a winter vehicle emergency kit, which should include deicer, a shovel, an ice scraper, and sand or kitty litter for traction. Also consider packing a blanket, extra gloves and hat, and a heavy coat in case you’re stuck on the road for an extended period of time.
Have snacks and beverages packed by the door to take in the morning so they don’t freeze in the car overnight, and have a backup power source for your cell phone in the car in case you’re stuck for a while.
And make sure your windshield wipers and lights are working properly so you can see and can be seen, and keep a full tank of gas, AAA says.
Also remember the following driving tips:
• Remove all snow from a vehicle before driving.
• Slow down and allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you. Don’t tailgate. Accelerate, turn and brake gradually.
•Never use cruise control on slippery roads, as you lose the ability to transfer more weight to the front tire by simply lifting off the accelerator.
•Avoid unnecessary lane changes.
• Brake earlier than normal when approaching traffic lights and stop signs.
UGI Utlities also issued tips for staying warm and safe during and after the storm.
• If the snow is deep, clear the outside vents of your furnace or other natural gas appliances. Blocked vents can lead to a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide.
• Clear a path to the gas meter for UGI personnel who may require access.
• The storm could cause downed power lines and potential power outages. A power outage will affect furnace blowers and electronic ignitions. If your gas heater does not relight when the power returns, turn the unit off for a moment, then back on. If it still does not light, call a heating professional for service.
UGI customers who experience a gas leak or power outage should call 800-276-2722 to report it.
PPL customers who experience a power outage should call 1-800-342-5775.
UGI recommends customers prepare for an electric outage by creating an emergency outage kit, including the following items:
• Flashlights and fresh batteries.
• Battery-powered radio or TV, extra batteries and a wind-up or battery-powered clock.
• A land-line, non-cordless phone.
• A supply of bottled water and non-perishable foods that require no heating.
• A hand-operated can opener, blankets, bedding or sleeping bags and a change of clothes.
• A first aid kit and prescription medications.
• Special items for infants, the elderly or family members with special needs and pet supplies.
• An extra set of car keys and house keys.
• Telephone numbers for emergency services and your utility companies.
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