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PennDOT: What to do if you encounter a snow squall

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Winter weather and the potential for snow squalls are in the forecast for areas of south central Pennsylvania this weekend.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation advised motorists on Friday to be alert to the possibility of snow squalls, especially on Saturday afternoon. Motorists need to be alert for squalls since they can quickly cause roads to become snow-covered and slick.  In addition, heavy squalls can also cause whiteout conditions, virtually eliminating a driver’s visibility.

Sudden and heavy snow squalls are one of the biggest challenges that motorists, including PennDOT plow truck drivers, face during the winter; and motorists need to be alert for sudden squalls that can quickly cause roads to become snow covered.

If motorists encounter snow squalls while traveling, PennDOT offers this advice:

  • Slow down gradually and drive at a speed that suits the conditions.
  • Turn on your headlights.
  • Stay in your lane.
  • Increase your following distance.
  • Stay alert, keep looking as far ahead as possible and be patient.
  • Reduce in-car distractions since your full attention is required.
  • Use defroster and wipers.
  • Keep windows and mirrors free of snow and ice.
  • During whiteouts, come to a complete stop only when you can safely get as far off the road as possible or when there is a safe area to do so.
  • Do not stop in the flow of traffic since this could create a chain-reaction collision.
  • Do not pass a vehicle moving slowly or speed up to get away from a vehicle that is following too closely.
  • Always buckle up and never drink and drive.

Meanwhile, PennDOT says they are prepared for the expected storm with plow trucks and other equipment ready. Salt, anti-skid and other materials are in good supply.

Motorists are reminded that roadways will not be free of snow while precipitation is falling. With freezing temperatures, roads that look wet may actually 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, PennDOT recommends six car lengths, when following a truck that is plowing or spreading winter materials.

Drivers can check conditions on nearly 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 770 traffic cameras.

PennDOT reminds motorists to pack an emergency kit for their vehicles. A basic kit should include non-perishable food, water, blanket, small shovel and warm clothes. When preparing an emergency kit, motorists should take into account special needs of passengers such as baby food, pet supplies or medications and pack accordingly.

For more information on winter driving and PennDOT operations, visit www.penndot.gov/winter.

SOURCE: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation