Winter Storm Turns To Rain, Future Freeze Expected
UPDATE: 7:35 p.m. PennDOT has lifted all commercial vehicle and speed restrictions on all interstate highways. In the wake of heavy snow and ice overnight, the state transportation agency had banned all commercial truck traffic, including tractor-trailers and buses, and speed limits had been reduced to 45 mph on many state routes. PennDOT had been lifting travel restrictions throughout the day as conditions improved, and, as of 4 p.m., restrictions remained only on Interstate 81 north of the Route 476 interchange at Clarks Summit. — JON O’CONNELL SCRANTON — Snowfall and rain stopped in the Scranton-area by late morning as plunging temperatures raise concerns. The winter storm that was expected to drop substantial snow on the area turned to rain earlier this morning after dumping about four or five inches of snow on the Scranton-area, though some areas in higher elevations reported snowfall totals ranging from seven to 10 inches, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll said. Though the snow and rain is done for the time being, frigid temperatures on the way could create another set of problems. “People shouldn’t let their guards down,” Doll said. “Our main concern is that as temperatures fall, things could get icy.” During the early morning hours, an umbrella proved just as necessary as a snow shovel or plow as rain drummed the area and temperatures stood in the upper 30s. As temperatures dropped, the rain turned to snow again at about 9 a.m. before precipitation ceased at about 11 a.m. By sundown, temperatures will drop to the teens and could turn roads and sidewalks icy, Doll said. PennDOT crews remain out plowing and salting roads in preparation for the coming freeze, PennDOT spokesman Michael Taluto said this morning. Restrictions limiting speed to 45 mph on interstates 84, 81, 80 and 380 remain in efffect, Taluto said. PennDOT lifted a commercial vehicle ban on some stretches of interstates across the commonwealth, though they remain in effect for interstates locally. Overall, first responders in the county saw a fairly quiet morning with no major difficulties being cause by the storm, though some drainage issues saw some roads get backed up with water due to rainfall, Lackawanna County Emergency Services Director David Hahn said. Looking ahead, the temperature will continue to fall tonight through tomorrow morning, when a low temperature of one below zero is expected, Doll said. Winds will chill things further, he added. “It’s going to feel a lot colder. It’s going to feel close to 20 below,” Doll said. The state Department of Health is urging residents to take necessary precautions as the cold temperatures cascade across the state today into tomorrow and to know the signs of dangerous conditions, such as hypothermia and frostbite, and as they remove the snow that did fall. Signs of hypothermia, an unusual drop in body temperature, include shivering, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color, most often in the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes, and can permanently damage your body or lead to amputation. When residents must clear walkways and driveways, follow these tips to make removing snow safer: Shovel in shifts instead of all at once; Take breaks and drink water to prevent dehydration; Push snow instead of lifting it – if you must lift, bend your legs and not your back; Avoid twisting motions that can stress your back; and If using a snow blower, follow all safety instructions and stay aware of other who may be nearby. Should someone experience a loss of power, residents should take steps to prevent a possible carbon monoxide buildup, which could lead to illness or death. Never use a gas range or oven to heat a residence. Never run a generator outside an open window, door or vent where exhaust can enter into an enclosed area, and never run a generator inside, even if the windows are open. Check back for updates.