Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf issues disaster emergency due to winter storm

Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Whiteout conditions in Lehigh Valley
Some roads weren't passable in the Lehigh Valley, so people just left their cars and walked.

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has issued a disaster emergency as a major winter storm continued to dump snow across the region early Tuesday morning. More than 20 inches of snow has fallen in some areas of the commonwealth since the storm started Sunday night.

"We are in the middle of one of the most impactful statewide storms we've had in a long time," said Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration Melissa Batula. "This is truly an all-hands-on-deck situation, and our crews are working hard to keep roads safe and passable."

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It has been nothing but whiteout conditions all evening in the Lehigh Valley.

Plow trucks were everywhere. They're doing the best job they can to clear the main roads around Allentown and Bethlehem. But with snow coming down like it has been Monday, it's a tough task.

Pat Deginto, 71, of Allentown, was shoveling her sidewalk for the third time and it was only 5 p.m.

"I'm thinking next year I'm moving to Florida," she said.

Winter storm brings whiteout conditions to Lehigh County. Bob Brooks reports for Action News at 11 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2021.

Dennis Hafemann was also trying to stay on top of the accumulation.

"I'm always ready for it. I've already shoveled once and I'll shovel again," said Hafemann.

Authorities said a 67-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease who reportedly wandered away from her home was found dead of hypothermia on an Allentown street Monday morning. About 60 miles north in Plains Township, a shooting after an argument over snow removal killed a married couple, and the suspect was later found dead at his nearby home of a wound believed to have been self-inflicted, officials in Luzerne County said.

A preliminary investigation indicates the people involved had a long-running conflict, but "this morning, the dispute was exacerbated by a disagreement over snow disposal," District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said.

In Montgomery County, crews were managing a mixture of snow and sleet, making the roads icy.

At points Monday, plow trucks switched over to spreading salt and brine to keep roads from icing over.

SEE ALSO: Montgomery County in snow emergency, drivers urged to stay home

Montgomery County is in a snow emergency as crews work to keep roads safe during the storm.

In Springfield, Delaware County, families have been flocking to a hill outside of the local police department all day. From little ones to parents who call themselves big kids, they couldn't get enough.

Families have fun sledding in Springfield, Delaware County. Ashley Johnson reports for Action News at 4 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2021.

The storm has prompted officials to impose speed restrictions on the many highways in the commonwealth.

Motorists are urged to avoid travel during the storm if possible. But if travel is necessary, use caution, reduce speeds and be aware of changing weather conditions.

"Throughout the storm, PEMA is working with our state and county partners to make sure we have a clear understanding of the storm and how it is affecting different parts of the state," said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. "We are particularly concerned with shipment and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, so we appreciate citizens who are taking this storm seriously and staying off the roads because fewer vehicles means fewer incidents that could delay those operations."

PennDOT implemented Tier 1 of the commonwealth's weather event vehicle restriction plan on all interstates in the Philadelphia. This includes the following roadways: I-76, I-95, I-295, I-476 and I-676.

Under Tier 1 restrictions, the following vehicles are not permitted on affected roadways:

-Tractors without trailers

-Tractors towing unloaded or lightly loaded enclosed trailers, open trailers or tank trailers

-Tractors towing unloaded or lightly loaded tandem trailers

-Enclosed cargo delivery trucks that meet the definition of a CMV

-Passenger vehicles (cars, SUV's, pickup trucks, etc.) towing trailers

-Recreational vehicles/motorhomes

-School buses, commercial buses and motor coaches not carrying chains or Alternate Traction Devices (ATD's)


A 45-mph speed restriction remains in effect on the interstates mentioned above as well as the following major roads:

- U.S. Routes 1, 30, 202, 422

- State Routes 63, 100 Spur and 309

The Tier 1 and speed restrictions will remain in place until conditions warrant their removal.

Why the I-95 Corridor can be the dividing line between snow & rain

Meteorologist Adam Joseph explains the importance of the I-95 Corridor when forecasting a winter storm.