DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- "Go big, go fast, but go smart. We need to go ahead and be aggressive, and be able to get ahead of the game." It may sound like a pep talk before a big game, but it's actually the motto used at the Pennsylvania Management Agency ahead of any major event. "We're always in the mindset of being prepared. The only thing you have to lose in a disaster is time. So we need to be prepared. We need to be up and running, and respond quickly," said PEMA Director, Rick Flinn.
Flinn activated the State Emergency Operations Center at noon Monday to a level 3. PEMA typically operates on a level 4, so the elevated level simply means they are monitoring the storm and coordinating with other state agencies. Officials from PennDOT, the Turnpike, and State Police set up shop in the operations center to help with the efforts.
Throughout the storm the State Meteorologist Jeff Jumper will help lead weather briefings to keep all of the state agencies on the same page and help with planning response efforts. "We have 67 counties that we need to talk about weather for, and with this system in particular, we are talking about anywhere from mainly rain, to up to a foot of snow in some parts of the Commonwealth. It's important that we understand all the hazards of this upcoming event, and that we address all of them as a preparedness agency," he said. One of his biggest concerns is the potential for ice. "We can deal with snow usually, but the potential for ice, especially during the commute, can be concerning."
That's why the main concern will be on the roadways throughout the storm. "Our focus will be on the commutes. Although there will not be a lot of icing, there will still be enough to cause potential road issues," said Flinn.