EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — We are taking a look into the snow squall that was responsible for a pileup on Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County and killed 6 people.
When you look at the radar that day showed very little snow over the area so why did that happen? And why wasn’t a warning issued?
The snow squall dropped visibility to near zero in a matter of seconds a big reason for the slippery road was a small band of sunshine moving out ahead of the snow squall.
“The surface road temperatures were just starting to get above freezing at that site, they just happened to be right under that band just to the northwest. Then once the squall hits you get some initial melting and then the road surface temperature equals the air temperature and you get a freeze,” stated Greg Devoir, NWS State College Lead Meteorologist.
The NWS in State College issued around a dozen snow squall warnings that day but not for this squall responsible for the huge pile-up.
“So there are areas that are equidistant from three radars that service that same area, but the beams all intersect a meteorological phenomenon at a certain height in this case over Schuylkill County at 8000 feet,” explained Devoir.
This means the radars were all shooting over the low-level snow squall making it difficult to see on the radar.
“It’s a challenge, we have other observational equipment that bridges the gap. Satellite, high-resolution satellite and any surface observations,” said Devoir.
One solution could be another radar but elevation and funding would still be issued.
“Were working closely with Schuylkill County officials to improve where we can that dissemination of information. It’s really a process. People need to be aware of days when we send out information about hey this could be happening,” explained Devoir.