WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The incoming snow has northeastern and central Pennsylvania on edge during the busiest travel weekend of the year.
PennDOT expects this storm to have a huge impact on this area. But representatives say they are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at us. On the flip side, many people are preparing by cutting their holiday trips short.
Diane Heines and family made a quick stop at the Pilot Travel Center in Pittston Township while on their way back to North Carolina.
“We were supposed to leave Sunday or possibly Monday but our trip got cut a little short. I’m a little disappointed. It was our first Thanksgiving in four years up here,” Heines said.
The couple and their two kids were visiting family in Connecticut, but decided it was much safer to leave before snow arrives.
“The whole drive that we’ve come down, all the signs say heavy snow expected, avoid travel Sunday and Monday. So it makes me feel better that we got on the road earlier because I was really unsure if we should leave or not,” Heines said.
That decision is exactly what PennDOT encourages travelers to do: Get on the road early to beat the storm. PennDOT is prepared to throw plenty of resources at this first widespread storm of the winter season. PennDOT crews were on standby Saturday night to await word to spread salt solution called brine on state roads. They’ll also get reinforcement crews from Harrisburg Sunday afternoon to tackle more state roads than those in New Jersey, New York, and New England combined.
“Because there is so much truck traffic this time of year right before Christmas and there’s so much long-distance travel, this will be a very, very busy area and that’s why in part we are having the extra resources come up from Harrisburg,” PennDOT spokesman James May said.
PennDOT is also implementing a pilot program that requires truck drivers to stay in the right lane once the speed limit is lowered to 45 miles per hour during the storm. Truck drivers are bracing for a mess.
“There’s not many places you can run and hide. You just have to be prepared, drive safely, be attentive and keep your eyes on the road and not be distracted,” truck driver Harry Alexander said.
PennDOT activated its incident command center in Dunmore at midnight. PennDOT representatives say it is much better to be driving behind the snowplows than in front of them.
You can keep an eye on the whereabouts of PennDOT trucks by checking 501PA.com or the 501PA app. Meanwhile, the first major widespread snow and ice storm to hit this season is already taking a toll.
The slow-moving coast-to-coast storm system is hampering Thanksgiving travel out west. Here in the east, it promises to snarl the return home for millions more.
With Sunday shaping up to be one of the busiest travel days of the year, some airlines are waiving flight change fees for passengers traveling Sunday and Monday through dozens of hubs across the country.