Meeting of the minds: preparing for winter

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PennDOT District 4 holds planning meeting

JESSUP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The calendar shows we’re only a month into fall but that didn’t stop a serious discussion on Wednesday about treating state roads in winter. As Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains, what was discussed was aimed at making your commute safer.

“So this is going to impact, we think, the winter season,” said National Weather Service Binghamton Warning Coordination Meteorologist Dave Nicosia. Pointing out a bend in the jet stream after recent snowstorms in the Rockies and northern Plains, he laid out his northeastern Pennsylvania winter outlook at the Lackawanna County 911 Center.

“So what happens is you get a battle between these Arctic and Polar highs coming down and this Bermuda High,” said Mr. Nicosia. Explaining factors of forecasting influence is all about getting PennDOT’s Engineering District 4 management team ready for the inevitable: treating and plowing roads when snow and ice eventually hit.

Mr. Nicosia said, “They need weather information for public safety as well as to keep the roads clear so they’re a partner of ours and we work very closely together in the wintertime.”

Sometimes winter hits early and with a vengeance as we saw last year during a mid-November snowstorm. It crippled roads during the afternoon and evening commute, stranding drivers left and right. Lessons have been learned.

PennDOT District 4 Acting Maintenance Assistant Director Garrett Westover said, “Being more proactive than reactive that’s going to, you know, make travel a lot better for everyone and keep our motoring public safe.”

Even though Mr. Nicosia’s expectation is we could be several weeks away from any widespread winter road woes, PennDOT isn’t taking any chances. It has more than 15 trucks with the plow already attached and ready to roll at a moment’s notice just in case. That number will ramp up by mid-November to tackle any troubles along 199 routes throughout Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming Counties.

Mr. Westover explained, “There are storms that, you know, come in and take a lot more of our resources to fight. And, again, having the staffing, having the trucks ready you know making sure we have all the materials on hand to fight those storms, that will be key for our success.”

PennDOT says because it may still have several weeks before dealing with wintry weather, it plans to finish up summer projects in its District 4 region. In the meantime, the Eyewitness Weather team is preparing its winter outlook which we’ll have for you next month.

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