Shoveling, driving advice given


Heavy snow and severe winds were forecast for Thursday across the region. With Spring looming only a month away, February seems to be making up for teh relatively calm weather of January 2010.


Heavy snow and severe winds were forecast for Thursday across the region. With Spring looming only a month away, February seems to be making up for teh relatively calm weather of January 2010.
PennDOT crews are preparing to deal with another massive snowstorm that will impact much of Pennsylvania, and the department is urging motorists in affected areas to avoid unnecessary travel.
Like in any snow storm, motorists are reminded to be prepared if tehy must be on teh road, and to have emergency survival kits are packed in each vehicle. These include a blanket, heat packs, energy food and a  flashlight with good batteries. Remember baby food, pet supplies or medications, if needed. Vehicles should carry brushes, scrapers, shovels and sand.
If you do get stuck, the American Red Cross advises that you should stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna for rescuers to see. Start the car and use the heater for about ten minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes don’t back up in the car. Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so you can be seen. As you sit, move your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and stay warm. Keep one window open to let in air.
Except for those fortunate to have someone else taht removes teh snow from the walkway and driveway, many of us are faced with vigorous winter exercise of doing it ourselves. The American Red Cross reminds the public to take frequent breaks. Avoid overexertion – heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of deaths during winter. Layers of cloting, ahat, and gloves or mittens are advised, to retain body heat.
Stay off the roads
PennDOT issued the following statement, Wednesday:
“It’s been a trying winter for all of us, and I sincerely thank all motorists who have wisely avoided unnecessary travel during the worst of conditions,” said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. “Some forecasts suggest this upcoming storm could be on par with – or worse than -- other recent storms. I ask motorists to heed our renewed warnings and avoid travel unless absolutely necessary.”
Earlier this month, much of southern Pennsylvania was battered with blizzard conditions, and this storm could bring similar conditions as wind gusts are expected to approach 50 mph across a large portion of the state.
“PennDOT and local crews fought through drifts as high as 15 feet during the Feb. 10 blizzard and this upcoming storm could produce similar, if not worse, conditions,” Biehler said. “The bottom line is that with the extreme conditions expected, motorists must be prepared if they become stranded.”
PennDOT warns motorists that with extreme wind gusts approaching 50 mph and heavy snowfall rates of one- to two-inches per hour, some secondary roads where drifting is prevalent will be blown shut until crews can direct equipment from primary routes.
Due to the extreme wind gusts currently forecast, PennDOT advises motorists who encounter expected white-out conditions to stop only after safely getting as far off the road as possible or when there is a safe area to do so. Also, do not stop in the flow of traffic since this could create a chain-reaction collision.
According to Biehler, interstates and other high-volume expressways are treated first during winter storms. Secondary state routes are a lower priority and during severe winter storms, deeper accumulations will occur on these roadways.
PennDOT asks motorists to allow plenty of space when driving near plow trucks. Also, for their own safety and the safety of plow operators, motorists should never attempt to pass a truck while it is plowing or spreading winter materials.
Because weather and road conditions can deteriorate quickly, motorists should always check the weather forecast before traveling. Road conditions for interstates and some limited-access highways are available by visiting www.511pa.com before you leave home, or by calling 511 while stopped in a safe location.
For more winter driving tips and information on how PennDOT treats winter storms, visit www.dot.state.pa.us/winter.
PennDOT also reminds citizen that downloadable materials, including home and car emergency kit checklists and emergency plan templates, are available at www.ReadyPA.org or by calling 1-888-9-READYPA.