What the 2016-17 winter could look like in the U.S.
At Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School on Tuesday morning, parents and office staff chatted about the weather. School had started on schedule, but with icy sleet in the forecast for the afternoon, no one knew if the kids would spend a whole day in class.
Employees grimaced, hoping the day would go as planned.
By 10 a.m., school districts started to fall one by one. Bald Eagle Area, Bellefonte, Penns Valley, Philipsburg-Osceola and State College all announced early dismissals. Evening activities were canceled.
Other agencies followed suit. The Centre Region Council of Governments called off the day’s Christmas tree recycling collection, even though it was in the home stretch, scheduled to wrap up by Friday. Centre County Library locations closed. The Penn State Medical Group closed its walk-in clinic early.
While temperatures the rest of the week are predicted to climb to 46 on Wednesday and a downright spring-like 56 Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, the state is warning that there is more wintry weather to come in coming weeks and months.
As freezing rain hit the area Tuesday evening, PennDOT dropped speed limits on Interstate 80 in Clinton, Centre and Clearfield counties.
In a press release Tuesday, the state Department of Transportation cautioned residents to take care of their cars and remember winter safety laws. Winter Driving Awareness Week, coincidentally runs through Saturday.
“It is important that drivers plan, and prepare their vehicles ahead of time, as weather patterns can change rapidly,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “Taking the proper steps before you hit the road will help keep you and other drivers safe this season.”
In addition to checking automotive fluid levels, lights, wiper blades and tires, PennDOT advocates keeping a vehicle emergency kit stocked with non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, a blanket, cellphone charger, small snow shovel and any specific extras for special needs like baby or pet supplies and necessary medication.
Then there were the special driving rules for winter weather, like clearing ice and snow before driving to avoid fines up to $1,000 and being extra careful when driving behind or in the vicinity of snow plows.
And for those daily trips, PennDOT suggests using the 511PA service to check driving conditions on the state’s 40,000 miles of roads with 770 traffic cameras. The service is available through a smartphone app or via www.511PA.com.