Snow in the rearview: response on the roads for the season’s first winter storm

James Boylethe Wire

Reports of a massive snowstorm heading for the East Coast started at least a week before, yet despite the days of preparation it seems nobody was fully ready for the sheer mass of snow that piled up on the streets and sidewalks in late January.

The two days of snowfall, beginning in the evening two Fridays ago and continuing through much of that Saturday, brought in totals ranging from 20 to 30 inches in Bucks County, with snow drifts piling the powder even higher in some cases.

While most residents sat and watched the accumulation grow, public works departments started using 24-hour shifts to begin the road-clearing task.

“Our crews worked long and hard over the weekend to stay on top of the 10 to 30 inches of snow that blanketed much of the state,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “We are gratified that many drivers heeded our warnings to postpone travel, and now we continue to wrap up and be prepared for whatever is coming our way in the weeks ahead.”

The days leading up to the weather event saw municipalities in Bucks and Montgomery counties activating emergency alerts, each with temporary requirements such as moving vehicles from routes to make room for the plows.

The Northampton Township Police Department posted several photos of cars getting towed after multiple warnings, a reminder that the request should be taken seriously.

“When is enough is enough?” the department posted on Jan. 26, along with pictures of a car getting removed. “Why should an entire neighborhood be inconvenienced at the entrance to their neighborhood, why should the school buses have to squeeze under the trees as they have to navigate around the same few cars every snow?”

According to PennDOT, more than 450 road crews were out during and after the storm, clearing highways and state roads. The crews also worked to salt the roads to prevent icing the following Monday, but there was still too much to overcome for school buses, giving area school children a much-appreciated snow day.

Despite the best efforts, not all snow responses rolled out smoothly. In Warminster, one of the plow trucks broke down early into the storm, leaving several neighborhoods unplowed until late Sunday and into Monday. Township officials held meetings to review the response and better prepare for the next storm, according to Supervisor Jason Croley.

It’s hard to say what the next two months hold, weather wise. Several early meteorology reports from the Weather Channel and Accu-Weather anticipate a typically cold February, but milder compared to last year. Of course, Mother Nature has a characteristic way of changing the script.

In the event of more snowfall this year, AAA’s Mid-Atlantic office provides a few travel tips. Recommendations include packing an emergency kit with an extra blanket, gloves, snacks, water and an external battery for cell phones; removing snow and ice thoroughly from the car before heading out; and driving slowly with plenty of stopping distance between cars.

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