Since Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Feb. 2, predicting six more weeks of winter, the area has seen more snow followed by ice with even more snow possibly coming up.
Last week saw schools declaring snow days on Monday, Feb. 3 and Wednesday Feb. 5 with delays as well. With all of the snow and below zero temperatures that happened earlier this year, the schools in the area were forced to add even more make-up days for the students. Hamburg Area School District will have school on Feb. 17, April 14, 15, 16 and 17 to make up for the missed days. Schuylkill Valley Area School District will have school on March 3, April 14, 15, 16, June 9 and 10. Tulpehocken Area School District will have school on Feb. 17, April 14, 15, 16 and 17. Make-up days can be found on the district’s website.
Last week’s Monday, Feb. 3, storm brought a consistent snow throughout the day which quickly piled up. Though the sun and preparation done on the roadways prior to the storm made much better driving conditions on main roads for the drive home from work rather than to work. More snow came with the Tuesday into Wednesday storm on Feb. 4 and 5 followed by freezing rain and ice which caused many problems on roadways as well as power outages with falling trees and wires. Following the week storms, Sunday, Feb. 9, saw a few more inches of snow that left a good portion of the roads covered with at least a dusting on Monday, Feb. 10, morning leading to Schuylkill Valley Area School District to begin the week with a two-hour delay while Hamburg and Tulpehocken Area School Districts went in at normal time.
During both storms, speed limits on major highways including the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Interstate 78 and other heavily traveled roads were temporarily reduced to 45 mph with motorists cautioned about road conditions.
A week later and the snow and ice still cause problems with black ice and many still waiting for power to be restored. PennDOT granted a temporary waiver, at the direction of Governor Tom Corbett, on certain restrictions on commercial drivers to allow for a continued smooth deliver of salt supplies for road clearing during winter storms. There is also a similar waiver in place for home heating fuel deliveries that was scheduled to end Feb. 11 or until emergency conditions ended.
With the possibility of more snow and even ice, the American Red Cross offered tips on driving during a winter storm or becoming stuck in a vehicle. Prior to leaving, drivers should make sure that they have a window scraper, cat litter or send in case they get stuck, extra clothes and a Disaster Supplies Kit. In the kit should be high-protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, emergency contact car with names and phone numbers, extra medications, blankets and important documents or needed information. Try to have a full gas tank and make sure to clean the lights and windows to allow visibility. It is always a good idea to check the travel route prior to leaving to see of any accidents or other issues. Letting someone know when you are leaving and expected to reach the destination is helpful in case of any problems.
When driving in winter weather, make sure everyone has on a seatbelt and avoid distractions such as cell phones. Leave room between other vehicles on the road in case of sudden stops or other hazards on the road. Do not use cruise control or pass snow plows. Remember that ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways. If your vehicle becomes stuck, do not constantly run the engine and heater to save on gas. Also do not use lights or the radio without the engine running to avoid battery issues. If possible, be sure to move the vehicle off of the roadway and stay with it. If you need to get out of the vehicle, try to do so on the side away from traffic.
Once again readers were asked to submit their snow and ice photos to add to The Item’s online photo album and for a photo page in this week’s issue. Check out reader submission on B8.
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