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PennDOT Preps For Wicked Weather

An inside look at how PennDOT's planning process.
HOLLIDAYSBURG, BLAIR COUNTY - It's one of the first questions everyone asks when they step outside and see a snow covered street, Where is PennDOT?
 
When it comes to winter weather they say the earlier they know the better.
 
“The pop-up storm or even the squalls we had the last couple days are very difficult to manage. You don't know where. You don't know when and you don't know what intensity is going to be,” PennDOT District 9 Assistant Director of Maintenance Walter Tomassetti says.
 
PennDOT says they have been aware of the storm heading this way for a few days.
That gives them time to prepare.
 
Crews have already been out pre-treating some of the busiest highways in the region, and a number of crews are on standby.
 
“We have people coming out tonight at 4:00 am and starting our winter shifting. We'll have people out from 4:00 am to noon and then noon to 8:00 pm, so we should be out well in advance of any precipitation coming into the district,” Tomassetti says.
 
They also get a little help from professionals.
On Monday, PennDOT officials from throughout the state met with a meteorologist from Accuweather on a web chat.
 
“He gives us an in-depth preview when it’s starting, where it’s starting and he can tell me when it's starting in Hollidaysburg and he can tell the guy in Erie when and how bad it's going to be in Erie and that's invaluable that way,” Tomassetti says.
 
And once the storm hits, all eyes turn to the cameras in their incident command center.
 
“We do use these cameras to monitor field conditions in certain locations out there and it comes in very handy,” Tomassetti says.
 
But even they admit they can't be everywhere, and with a mix of conditions expected during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, they urge caution and patience.
 
“It's one thing to get a little snow and push it out of the way, but if we do get the sleet and freezing rain, we can't be everywhere at once, but we will be out in force,” Tomassetti says.

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