Intense Cold Follows Winter Storm In NEPA

January 21, 2019 GMT

A wet winter storm gave way to chilling winds Sunday into Monday in Northeast Pennsylvania.

The National Weather Service issued a wind chill warning that began Sunday night and was forecast to run through 7 tonight. Wind chills as low as 30 below zero were expected. The cold wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.

The intense cold came in the wake of a winter storm that dropped a few inches of wet, heavy snow Saturday night into Sunday. A low-pressure area out of the Tennessee Valley proved stronger than meteorologists expected, which shoved a warm air mass over Pennsylvania, AccuWeather meteorologist Randy Adkins said. That turned what was supposed to be snow into rain, which slashed snowfall totals.

Overall, 4 to 7 inches of snow fell on the region, much less than originally predicted, he said.

Shoveling was a soggy mess, but many roads were clear of snow by Sunday afternoon. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation began lifting speed restrictions on the interstates as the intensity of the storm dropped, and most motorists avoided major accidents.

“If there were any, there were very, very few incidents where we actually had large portions of the interstates closed for any extended period of time,” PennDOT spokesman James May said.

But as Sunday continued, temperatures kept dropping.

“It’s important to note that we are not out of the storm yet,” May said. “The concern now is that any material still on the roads now will freeze. We’re still very, very cognizant of the fact that there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

The falling temperatures prompted a travel advisory in Wilkes-Barre. Even though streets have been treated, the road salt is ineffective below 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Roads will be slippery. Please use caution if traveling is absolutely necessary, the city warned motorists on its Facebook page.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is expected to be sunny, cold and windy. Temperatures are forecast to stay in the single digits.

Tuesday night brings a slight chance of snow, and Wednesday will likely see snow that gives way to a mix of rain and snow.

JON O’CONNELL, staff writer, contributed to his report.

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