Snow emergencies were declared Monday in response to the National Weather Service report that the region could see 4 to 8 inches of snow. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has reduced speed limits to 45mph for area roadways, including Interstate 78 and Route 422.
Fleetwood, Brandywine Heights and Kutztown school districts were closed for a snow day and Kutztown University cancelled classes.
Kutztown Chief of Police Craig Summers said the snow emergency “allows the Borough to plow from curb to curb on major roadways. By doing this it also allows emergency vehicles clear access to locations in the Borough and to roadways leading out of the Borough.”
What constitutes a snow emergency?
“The Mayor of Kutztown declares a snow emergency based on the recommendation of the Chief of Police and the Public Works Director,” said Summers. “While there are no hard and fast rules regarding what constitutes a snow emergency officials use snow fall totals and weather predictions as a guide.”
When asked about the challenges of a lot of snow falling in Kutztown, Summers said, “Snow removal becomes an issue if too much falls as there is no place to put it. Streets become impassable if people do not abide by the snow emergency.”
Kutztown Mayor Sandy Green added that Kutztown University’s Community Outreach Center offers “Operation Snowflake,” a snow removal program for elderly or disabled residents in the borough. For more information, call 610-683-4923.
“It’s one of those situations where you hope everyone will be neighborly and help each other out and not block someone in or cover a spot that someone else took the time to shovel,” said Fleetwood Police Chief Steve Stinsky.
He offered driving tips during snow storms.
“Take the extra time to get where they’re going,” said Stinsky. “Remember that as the storm passes and the roads become more passable, people have a tendency not to realize that we’re still under winter driving conditions and sometimes drive a little faster than they should.”
Stinsky advised to drive cautiously. With the way these temperatures are fluctuating, sometimes the snow melts and later freezes. Bridges and overpasses are colder and may start to freeze over, he said.
“You could be driving on what’s just wet, go around the bend or over a bridge and start sliding on ice. So please give yourself plenty of time and respect the weather that’s out there,” said Stinsky.
Summers said Monday afternoon that at this point there was no need to relocated snow, “however if the snow gets to the point where it causes a hazard or the streets, especially Main Street, becomes too narrow it will be relocated.”
Snow emergencies are posted on the Borough web page, announced on the emergency alert system which calls and e-mails those who sign up, posted on WFMZ news and police announce it on their Twitter site. Generally Kutztown University also announces it on their emergency alert system. Vehicles not moved could receive a ticket or be towed.
Fleetwood’s snow emergency was in effect Monday 11 a.m. until Tuesday 8 a.m. for established routes that are the main arteries of the borough, that cars cannot be parked so plows can come through and to allow for emergency traffic, said Stinsky. Cars will be towed if parked on a snow emergency route during the declared emergency.
“To make sure there’s free passage for traffic,” said Stinsky. “Basically, completely clean the street for all the traffic to get through.”
Vehicles traveling on those routes need chains or snow tires to prevent vehicles from getting stuck and blocking traffic, he said.
Stinsky reminds residents that during a snow storm that within 24 hours of when snow stops falling to clear a pathway in front of their residence and clear snow from sidewalks that border their property. When shoveling, do not throw snow into the street.
Borough snow removal efforts begin in heavily traveled areas and areas of commerce and government, said Stinsky.