Emergency Declaration As Winter Storm Threatens Pennsylvania

Jan 18, 2019

A Pennsylvania Department of Transportation road treatment truck pulls in to attach a plow at a storage facility in Franklin Park, Pa. on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. Weather forecasters are are predicting a heavy weekend snow storm across Pennsylvania and surrounding states. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Credit Keith Srakocic / Associated Press

A weekend storm headed for Pennsylvania could pack a wallop of snow, followed by bitter cold, high winds and icy conditions, making travel hazardous and power outages possible.

The storm should sweep into western Pennsylvania on Saturday morning, tracking its way across the state by afternoon.  As of Friday afternoon, most of the state was under a winter storm warning from 1:00 p.m. Saturday through 1:00 p.m. Sunday.

Governor Tom Wolf today signed a state of emergency declaration to allow for increased funds and personnel to assist with storm-related needs. 

"We want to be aggressive in managing this storm, during which snowfall rates could exceed one to two inches per hour," Governor Wolf said. "Our top concern is the safety of residents. If you do not have to travel during the storm, please avoid it. Please heed warnings from emergency responders and personnel, and remember to check on your neighbors, especially the elderly."

PennDOT says "The commonwealth also will impose speed restrictions and a ban on all commercial traffic, including buses on most interstates and the Pennsylvania Turnpike." They say the ban will be in effect from noon on Saturday through noon on Sunday, "on all interstates and the Turnpike, except for Interstate 95 in southeastern Pennsylvania."

Speed limits will also be restricted to 45 mph on the interstates and expressways as the storm progresses.

State officials are urging motorists to postpone travel if possible, reduce speeds and be aware of the potential for rapidly changing weather and roadway conditions.

The National Weather Service says Pittsburgh could get as much as 11 inches of snow, central Pennsylvania and parts of the Poconos could get 16 inches and Philadelphia's suburbs could get 8 inches.

As the snow moves out, heavy, freezing rains are possible late Saturday into Sunday morning.

Dangerous wind chills will be a concern on Monday morning.