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Development & Transportation

Pennsylvania issues travel restrictions as first winter storm of 2022 hits the state

pittsburgh_river_snow_winter.jpg
Gene J. Puskar
/
AP
National Weather Service forecasts updated Sunday afternoon predict the Pittsburgh area could see 8-12 inches of snow.

The snow began falling on Western Pennsylvania about midafternoon Sunday in what is gearing up to be the state’s first major winter storm of 2022.

Updated forecasts issued by the National Weather Service on Sunday predict western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and the West Virginia panhandle could see 6-12 inches of total snow accumulation by the time the winter storm warning expires at 1 p.m. Monday. The Pittsburgh area is expected to receive 8-12 inches.

National Weather Service meteorologist Pat Herald told WESA News the storm is the result of a low-level pressure system, where very cold air combines with moisture emanating from the Atlantic Ocean.

As the system moved into the commonwealth Sunday afternoon, officials from Pennsylvania’s emergency and transportation agencies provided a briefing on the state’s response to the inclement conditions.

PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike imposed speed and vehicle restrictions on major roadways across the state effective 3 p.m. Sunday. Transportation officials assured the public that PennDOT is adequately staffed to clear roads and make conditions as safe as possible.

However, the officials’ overriding plea to Pennsylvania residents boiled down to one request: please stay at home.

“If you don’t need to travel during the high impact times, please consider changing your travel plans,” said Jeffrey Thomas, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency’s executive deputy director. “Let the road crews do their job without a lot of other cars that don’t need to be on the road.”

If residents do need to venture out, Thomas advised them to check road conditions before leaving and to be prepared for the possibility of becoming stranded. He recommended travelers make sure their gas tanks are full, phones are charged and vehicles packed with blankets, food and medications.

NWS meteorologist Herald also urged the public to stay home until the snow stops and the roads are plowed. That’s in part because, along with snow, the storm is expected to bring sleet and trace amounts of freezing rain.

“Freezing rains are actually very dangerous because no matter what type of snow tire you have, it’s not going to grip that ice,” he said.