Governor Wolf and PEMA Provide Storm Update

March 21, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – As the weather system bringing significant snow across much of southern and eastern Pennsylvania continues through the evening hours, Governor Tom Wolf and officials at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) provided a second storm update for Pennsylvanians in the storm’s eastward path.

“Snow is forecast to continue through the evening and into early Thursday morning,” Gov. Wolf said. “Residents in the path of the storm – primarily the southern and eastern parts of the state – should continue to be judicious in choosing to travel and should postpone any unnecessary trips. We want to ensure PennDOT and municipal road crews are able to do their jobs to clear roadways safely and without delays.”

Earlier today Gov. Wolf visited a PennDOT maintenance facility in Philadelphia to provide a weather update and thank PennDOT workers for their dedication to clearing roadways and keeping Pennsylvanians safe.

“I’m with the most important people in Pennsylvania right now – the crews of PennDOT,” Gov. Wolf said. “We owe them all a great debt of gratitude. We all appreciate what they are doing across Pennsylvania, working tirelessly to make sure our roads are safe.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) lifted restrictions from several interstates as of 4 p.m., but left others in place.

The overall ban on commercial vehicles was lifted from:

  • Interstate 70, from the Maryland line to the Turnpike.
  • Interstate 84 (westbound only, entire length)

The commercial ban remains on:

  • Interstate 83 (entire length)
  • Interstate 84 (eastbound, entire length)
  • Interstate 78 (entire length)
  • Interstate 380 (entire length)

Interstate 84 in New York and Interstates 78 and 80 in New Jersey remain restricted due to forecasts of continued heavy snow.

PennDOT’s and the PA Turnpike’s other ban on empty straight CDL-weighted trucks, tractors hauling double trailers, tractors hauling empty trailers, trailers pulled by passenger vehicles, pick-up trucks, motorcycles and recreational vehicles, or RVs, was lifted from:

  • Interstate 79 from the Turnpike to Interstate 80.
  • Interstate 99 (entire length)
  • Interstate 76, the East-West Turnpike mainline, between the Ohio line and the Breezewood Interchange

The ban on these latter categories remains on:

  • Interstate 76, the Schuylkill Expressway and the East-West Turnpike mainline from Breezewood east to and Valley Forge.
  • Interstates 276 and 476, a portion of the mainline Turnpike between Valley Forge and the Delaware River Bridge in southeastern Pennsylvania and the entire Northeastern Extension.
  • Interstate 476 between the Turnpike and Interstate 95.
  • Interstate 676 (entire length)
  • Interstate 176 (entire length)
  • Interstate 95 (entire length)
  • Interstate 78 (entire length)
  • Interstate 80 from the New Jersey line to the junction with Interstate 81.
  • Interstate 81 from the Maryland line to the junction with Interstate 80.

A commercial vehicle is defined as a vehicle used for commerce and meets one of the following conditions:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 17,001 pounds or more, whichever is greater.
  • Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (including the driver) for compensation.
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation.
  • Is a school bus.
  • Is transporting hazardous materials which is required to be placarded in accordance with department regulations.

Beginning at 4 p.m., The Pennsylvania Turnpike lifted the 45 MPH speed-limit restriction only on the East/West mainline (I-76) from the Ohio line east to the New Stanton exit (No. 75).

More than 450 Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers remain on standby or are staged for possible missions throughout the night.

If traveling during severe winter weather, motorists should make sure their gas tank is full and they pack an emergency kit, which should include non-perishable food, water, blanket, small shovel, and warm clothes. Remember also any special needs, such as baby food, pet supplies or medications.

When and if queues form and roadways are expected to be closed for long periods because of crashes and other traffic disruptions, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency can activate the 511PAConnect system to establish contact via cellphone to trapped motorists.

Motorists are reminded that roadways will not be free of snow while precipitation is falling. With freezing temperatures, roads that look wet may 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. Also, reduced speeds are a must when traveling during snow events.

While PennDOT recommends not traveling during winter storms, motorists are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” by checking conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles by visiting 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than 850 traffic cameras. Users can also see plow truck statuses and travel alerts along a specific route using the “Check My Route” tool.

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.

Pennsylvania State Troopers continue mobilization to respond to crashes and disabled vehicles resulting from the storm. PSP asks people to limit travel this evening and overnight so as not to put themselves, other drivers, or first responders at risk unnecessarily.

Remember to call 9-1-1 to report an emergency. Police, fire, and EMS will respond as soon as possible.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) reports that all utilities are mobilized and on standby to respond to outages, which are minimal at this time. The PUC provides these utility storm tips:

  • Call your utility hotline to report outages.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 to report power outages unless there is a hazardous situation, like sparking lines, fire, or down power lines across a road.  For emergencies, call 9-1-1, and then call your utility.
  • Do not touch or approach any fallen lines, and don’t attempt to remove tree limbs or other objects touching power lines.

“Just be safe,” Gov. Wolf said. “This is a big snowstorm and we have to make sure we do everything we can to be safe. If you don’t have to go out, don’t. If you have neighbors who need help, help them out. Be safe. Be careful.”

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