Motorists warned to stay off roads as snow, wintry mix arrive in Lehigh Valley

Written by on January 16, 2022

Motorists urged to stay off roads as snow, wintry mix arrive in Lehigh Valley

By Jen Rehill
January 16, 2022

Stay home. That’s the message from Pennsylvania emergency responders and transportation officials as the Lehigh Valley braces for a winter storm threatening to bring snow and ice to the region. 

Speaking at a news conference Sunday afternoon, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Deputy Director Jeffrey Thomas urged residents not to travel.

“This is a complex storm,” Thomas said. “The impacts are going to rangely widely from one part of the state to the other, from significant snowfalls to sleet to freezing rain or just plain rain.”

In addition to traffic issues, Thomas said the storm may also cause widespread power outages, and impact residents’ ability to heat their homes. 

PEMA activated the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center on Sunday afternoon with Pennsylvania State Police, PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to monitor conditions throughout the storm. 

Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said conditions leading up to the storm will make traveling especially dangerous once it starts.

“With the temperatures that we have here already across the commonwealth in the teens, it tells you that the road surface is already frozen,” Compton said. “So as soon as this snowfall starts, it’s going to start impacting traffic immediately. So we’re not going to get a grace period with this storm.”

A winter weather advisory is in effect from the National Weather Service from 6 p.m. Sunday through 1 a.m. Monday. Mixed precipitation is expected in the Lehigh Valley with total snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches, followed by ice accumulations of up to one-tenth of an inch. The region may also see wind gusts as high as 45 mph.

Snow is expected to start falling in the early evening, before quickly changing to a wintry mix and eventually to rain. The most hazardous travel conditions are expected with the wintry mix, including a period of freezing rain.

PennDOT has announced Tier 2 and 3 travel restrictions on mostly commercial vehicles for the following roads during the storm:

  • All interstates south of Interstate 80, not including Interstate 80;
  • PA Turnpike I-76 (Mainline) from the Ohio border to Cranberry (Exit 28), and then from the Breezewood exit (Exit 161) to the New Jersey border, including all western extensions;
  • PA Turnpike Northeast Extension (I-476) from I-276 to I-80;
  • U.S. 22 from I-78 to the New Jersey border;
  • Route 33 from I-78 to I-80.

More information on roads and travel is available at PennDOT’s website 511pa.com

PennDOT and state police officials said if motorists must travel, they should reduce their speed, and not pass plow trucks.

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