Preparation, Flexibility Urged Ahead of Potential Storm during Holiday Travel Period

Posted on Monday November 24, 2014

With weather forecasts calling for potential wintry mixes or accumulating snow on Wednesday, PennDOT is urging drivers to be prepared and change travel plans if necessary.

“We all want to visit our friends and families this Thanksgiving, but I urge all motorists to be prepared for potential winter road conditions and consider altering travel if necessary,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “Our first priority should be to arrive safely, even if it takes more time to reach our destinations.

PennDOT crews across the state are monitoring forecasts and will be prepared to tackle wintry conditions. PennDOT expects to extend crew shifts to have 24-hour coverage and will work through the Thanksgiving holiday to clear any accumulating snow.

Crews will monitor road and outside temperatures using technology in each plow truck. This technology helps operators ensure that if conditions warrant road treatment, they are using the optimal type and amount of material.

“Motorists should be aware that if this storm begins with rain or freezing rain, we generally won’t pretreat roads because the rain will wash salt brine away,” Schoch said. “This is one of the reasons why it’s so critical that we have real-time conditions and that drivers closely watch forecasts to decide whether they should travel.”

No matter the holiday destination, drivers should ensure their vehicle has an emergency kit including non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger and a small snow shovel. Motorists should also tailor their kits to any specific needs that they or their families may have, including baby and pet supplies, extra medication or even children’s games.

Statewide, PennDOT currently has 714,000 tons of salt on hand to tackle winter weather and will continue to take salt deliveries throughout the season. Last winter, PennDOT used more than 1.2 million tons of salt on state-owned roads.

When winter weather hits, PennDOT’s primary focus is on interstates and expressways, and equipment may be redirected to these routes during significant winter events. The more traffic a roadway has, the more attention it will receive from plows, so motorists may find deeper accumulations on less-traveled routes and should adjust their driving for those conditions.

PennDOT also urges motorists to “Know Before You Go” using its 511PA traveler information service. Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 700 traffic cameras.

511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

For more information on PennDOT’s winter preparations and additional winter-driving resources for motorists, visit the department’s “Ready for Winter” website at


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