The week's second winter storm is set to bring a potentially dangerous mix of snow and ice to the area today.
Much of the state is under a winter storm warning from the National Weather Service until 4 p.m. today. Craig Evanego, a meteorologist with the NWS in State College, said the amount and type of precipitation will vary depending on the location. Early precipitation will be mostly snow, but it will change to freezing rain in the early hours today.
Counties to the north will see more snow than ice, Evanego said, while southern regions should expect to be icier. Blair County could see between 2 and 4 inches of snow and up to a quarter-inch of ice, which could make for a rough drive to work.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Yusef Hall, a PennDOT transportation operator, fills his truck on Tuesday with a liquid salt brine in preparation for today’s storm. A mixture of snow and ice is expected to make traveling difficult throughout the day.
"It's going to be kind of sloppy [this] morning," Evanego said Tuesday, "and potentially icy for the morning commute."
Johnstown, Bedford and Somerset could see as much as half an inch of ice accumulation, he said. For those in Centre County and north, between 4 and 8 inches of snow could accumulate through this afternoon, though residents will see at most a quarter-inch of ice.
Altoona city officials are urging residents to keep cellphones charged in case snow downs telephone or power lines, according to a release from the city clerk.
People can register to receive storm updates by email or text message at the city's website, www.altoonapa.gov, according to the release, and if residents have an emergency, they are asked to contact the city's emergency operation center at 949-2550.
Anthony Scalia, PennDOT safety press officer, said the department has plenty of material to take on the storm, and its truck operators are prepared for the situation.
He said it's important for drivers to make sure their vehicles are operating in optimal condition before heading out in winter weather.
Having more than half of a tank of gas can help ensure drivers reach their destinations even if they're driving slowly or have to stop, he said.
Clearing off the roads also takes time, Scalia said, something some drivers tend to forget.
"One thing motorists need to remember is while there's still precipitation coming down, not all the roads are going to be bare all at once," he said.
Maintaining a safe speed and following distance may add extra length to a morning commute, he said, but it's important to remember these safety measures in winter weather.
And, if possible, staying home is the best way to weather the storm, Scalia said.