The first major snowstorm of the season plagued the region Wednesday with difficult travel conditions and numerous vehicle crashes.
Snow is expected to continue this morning, Accuweather meteorologist Tom Kines said. Temperatures were expected to increase slightly from the mid-20s, which could mean sleet or freezing rain today, Kines said.
"Heavy bursts" of snowfall Wednesday were more than forecasters originally predicted, he said.
Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec
Traffic moved slowly on Interstate 99 north Wednesday afternoon. Conditions forced officials to issue 45 mph restrictions on Interstate 99 and large swaths of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
"It's probably a little bit worse than what we have thought," Kines said.
Conditions forced officials to issue 45 mph restrictions on Interstate 99 and large swaths of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. PennDOT also enacted additional speed restrictions on interstates 78, 80 and 81 shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday as snowfall continued to make travel hazardous for motorists.
Despite the decreased speeds, local roadways remained congested and icy, officials said. Dozens of minor crashes were reported across the region as motorists braved the storm, PennDOT District 9 spokeswoman Pam Kane said.
"It is snowing really hard in some areas," Kane said. "We really would recommend that if you don't have to travel, to please stay home and maybe go another day."
Clearing area roadways was the number one priority for emergency personnel Wednesday evening.
Speed restrictions on area highways were enacted as a proactive measure to ensure drivers' safety during the storm, Kane said.
Drivers should continue to exercise caution on area roadways, always wear their seat belts and watch for snow and ice on the roadway, Kane said. Motorists should also watch for plow crews and not attempt to pass plow trucks, she said.
PennDOT crews worked across Blair County to clear area roadways, but motorists should continue to use caution because of the possibility of icy roadways, county 911 officials said.
Emergency crews responded to multiple reports of vehicle crashes on Old Route 22 and Amelia Avenue leading to Logan Town Centre Wednesday, officials said.
David Dodson, Ebensburg Borough public works director, said the situation looked similar in many municipalities, with "no end in sight" for the snowfall.
"The roads are open," Dodson said. "There's just a lot of them that are covered and haven't been plowed yet. Everything's still pretty bad."
Multiple crashes and stalled vehicles were reported on Route 22, Cambria County 911 officials said.
Snow also snarled air travel across the Northeast.
The storm caused delays at University Park Airport, State College, as crews worked to clear the tarmac, airport Director Bryan Rodgers said.
"Crews have been working out on the airfield since the start of the storm," Rodgers said. "There have been a number of cancellations and delays."
Passengers can track their flights and receive flight delay updates by checking the airport's website, Rodgers said. About 14 daily flights depart from University Park Airport, and many inbound flights were delayed Wednesday evening, he said.
Snow showers are possible into tonight, the National Weather Service in State College said. Winds are expected to increase with sustained winds of 15 to 25 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph.
The next chance of snow is late Friday night and Saturday, the weather service said.
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.