Speed limits reduced as winter storm hits central Pennsylvania

Teresa Boeckel
York Daily Record

Update Sunday evening

PennDOT has reduced speed limits to 45 mph on a number of roads in central Pennsylvania.

The roads affected are:

-Interstates 81, 83 and 283

-Routes 15, 22, 30, 222, 283 and 581.

There is now also a speed restriction on Interstate 78 in Lebanon County.

Other restrictions:

-No tractors without trailers

-No tractors towing unloaded or lightly loaded enclosed trailers, open trailers or tank trailers

-No tractors towing loaded tandem trailers unless there are chains or another approved Alternate Traction Device onboard

-No enclosed cargo delivery trucks that meet the definition of a CMV

-No passenger vehicles (cars, SUV’s, pickup trucks, etc.) towing trailers

-No recreational vehicles/motorhomes

-No school buses, commercial buses, motor coaches, motorcycles.

"Although PennDOT crews have been treating roadways, the department’s primary goal is to keep roads passable, not completely free of ice and snow. PennDOT will continue to treat roadways throughout the storm until precipitation stops and roads are clear," according to a news release.

Update Sunday afternoon

Snow i falling in central Pennsylvania.

"The heaviest snow will fall in the western half of the state, with snow totals decreasing to the east where more sleet and rain are expected," according to the National Weather Service, as outlined in a state news release. "As the steady snow tapers to snow showers on Monday, a strong west wind with gusts up to 50 mph may create some blowing snow and scattered utility outages."

Update Sunday morning

A winter weather advisory is in effect from 1 p.m. Sunday until 1 a.m. Monday.

The snow is expected to begin falling in the area late this afternoon, bringing 1-5 inches and a light coating of ice, before changing to rain overnight, according to the National Weather Service. Up to 6 inches is forecast in Franklin County

Expect roads to be slippery.

“PennDOT crews work before and throughout the storm to keep roads safe and passable, but they will not be completely free of snow while precipitation is falling,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said in a news release. “Please, avoid unnecessary travel and if you must travel, reduce speeds and be aware of changing weather conditions.”

PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are expecting to enact speed and vehicle restrictions.

Previous report

A winter storm watch is in effect for central Pennsylvania from Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

The forecast calls for snow and a possible wintry mix of snow and ice.

And transportation officials are already anticipating road restrictions during the storm.

"There is the potential there for a significant East Coast storm this weekend," National Weather Service meteorologist Craig Evanego said.

The storm is expected to impact the mid-Atlantic Sunday evening into early Monday.

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Its track and precipitation — a wintry mix or all snow — is uncertain, Evanego said. But the chances of the storm missing the area are unlikely.

AccuWeather.com has released how much snow could fall during a storm Sunday into Monday.

The National Weather Service is predicting 2-5 inches of snow and then a glaze of ice in York County, with 2-5 inches of snow in Adams in Lebanon counties also. Franklin County is in the 3-6 inch range.

Fritzi Schreffler with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said York and Dauphin counties were pretreating interstates and trouble spots on Friday. 

PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are advising motorists to avoid unnecessary travel during the storm. Additionally, they anticipate implementing speed and vehicle restrictions, according to a news release.

Weekend forecast can still change

Social media has been abuzz with talk about the potential storm. Meteorologists are discussing the various scenarios online. Some are comparing it to a significant system that delivered snow on Jan. 25, 2000.

The low pressure system is expected to develop in the Gulf Coast states and move toward the Carolinas, he said. Then it will likely travel up the East Coast.

AccuWeather.com is predicting that it could be all snow or that ice and rain could mix in depending on the track of the storm.

"It's a complicated situation," AccuWeather.com meteorologist Paul Walker said.

Walker warned the public that it might see some social media posts sharing the worst-case scenarios. They should check on the forecasts provided by professional meteorologists.

This would be the second snowstorm since the beginning of the new year.

A storm last week delivered up to seven inches of snow in south central Pennsylvania.