Gov. Wolf Urges Citizens to Monitor Local Forecasts, Be Alert for Severe Weather Threats

May 23, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Gov. Tom Wolf and state emergency management officials are urging citizens to monitor weather conditions as a strong storm system moves across the state today, bringing the potential for severe thunderstorms. Beginning this afternoon and lasting into late evening, severe thunderstorms can produce damaging wind and hail, along with a few tornadoes, isolated flash flooding, and dangerous lightning.

“With severe weather in the forecast, we’re encouraging citizens to use caution and to stay tuned into weather reports for any important news as inclement weather develops,” Gov. Wolf said. “A smartphone can be a great resource for updates, but don’t rely on just one device. Ensuring you can receive updates from multiple sources during bad weather is very important.”

According to the National Weather Service, severe weather is expected to occur throughout much of the commonwealth, particularly late this morning through the evening. Strong winds could bring down trees and power lines, due to ground saturation from recent rainfall, and the possibilities of tornados remains elevated.

“Severe weather can be difficult to predict and localize, particularly in larger storm systems. Monitoring local news for updates is always a good way to stay on top of things,” said PEMA Acting Director Randy Padfield. “Our agency is prepared to assist local and county emergency management personnel with any unmet needs that may arise.”

Padfield said it is important for the public to understand the difference between a watch and a warning because each represents a different level of action to be taken.
• A watch means that conditions are favorable for a weather condition to occur. Residents should stay alert and monitor conditions related to the weather condition.
• A warning means that there are already reports of the weather condition or that it is about to occur. Residents should take immediate action to mitigate their exposure.

Padfield said motorists should stay alert when traveling during periods of severe storms. Flood waters can rise quickly. Never drive through a flooded roadway – more than half of all flooding deaths occur in cars. While water on a flooded roadway might not look deep, the roadway could be washed away under the water, or the road could be compromised in a way that could make it unsafe to travel.

Always follow the guidance of local emergency personnel or law enforcement if you encounter roadblocks or closures. State law mandates that motorists who drive around or through signs or traffic control devices closing a road or highway due to hazardous conditions will have two points added to their driving records and be fined up to $250. Penalties are higher if emergency responders are called to rescue motorists who disregard warning signs.

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