PEMA, PennDOT provide update on winter storm in the commonwealth

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration Melissa Batula and PEMA Director Randy Padfield provided an update on response to the winter storm moving through Pennsylvania Monday and Tuesday.

Secretary Batula discussed their tiered plan for speed restriction. Vehicle restrictions were put into place in highly impacted areas. Batula said PennDOT will monitor conditions through the entirety of the storm and reevaluate, adjust or add more speed restrictions where needed.

Dangerous snowfall that restricts visibility and the conditions of the roadways will determine when restrictions are lifted.

Batula said one of the biggest challenges with this storm is its sheer duration, especially as wide as its impact is in the commonwealth.

PennDOT says all hands are on deck and mobilized teams have been sent to the northwest and southwest regions of the state to assist where needed. They have also sent a staffed up crew to Luzerne County, as Secretary Batula says snow is falling at two to four inches per hour in the northeast part of the state.

The Commonwealth Response Coordination Center, which has been open since the beginning of the pandemic in March, is now more heavily staffed in-person and virtually with officials from PEMA, PennDOT, Pennsylvania State Police, the state turnpike commission and the National Guard.

Director Padfield spoke on the effect the storm is having on coronavirus vaccine distribution. Padfield says PEMA is working to ensure every shipment of vaccinations reach its destination securely. The department says it tracks every shipment of vaccines and can troubleshoot if any issues are encountered.

PEMA is also monitoring other issues exacerbated by cold weather such as power outages and other emergencies that would have delayed response times.

Once the storm moves out, PennDOT says its mission will continue, but asks drivers to limit travel as crews work to treat and clear roadways.

Even if a road appears clear, use cautions for plow trucks, PA511 can tell when state roads were last plowed and cleared.

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