The Christmas holiday weekend will be very cold, with winds in Williamsport gusting up to 38 miles per hour, and travel conditions requiring full gas tanks, a winter emergency kit and avoiding any unnecessary travel.
Temperatures from Friday to Sunday are expected to be in the teens during the day and with wind chills below zero and minus 10 to 15 degrees at night and early morning, according to the National Weather Service in State College.
Kim Smith, the security press officer at the State Department of Transportation District 3 office in Montoursville, spoke in an interview with the Sun-Gazette chief on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Technology with mobile apps and computers are available that can help provide real-time data for those who go out to shop, visit or travel for any purpose.
“We recommend using the 511 PA app for road conditions and to avoid unnecessary trips,” she said.
That may be an anomaly for a Christmas weekend, but it will be bitterly cold outside, and exposure outside to any open skin can result in frostbite in 10 minutes.
The 511 PA app also provides travel alerts, such as interstate and highway conditions and a tracking device that can indicate plow truck operations.
“We recommend carrying an emergency kit in your vehicle,” she said.
That should, ideally, contain a cell phone charger, blankets, shovels, any medications that need to be taken, baby and toddler items like diapers and formula, pet food and bottled water.
Remember to always take a communication device such as the cell phone while traveling.
To ensure safe travel in these hazardous conditions, PennDOT and municipal road crews have prepared the routes with salt and anti-skid. However, during extremely cold temperatures the effectiveness of salt on the road surface may be limited, so motorists are asked to remain cautious.
For those going out to shop or visit people, it is recommended that drivers adjust their driving to weather conditions and plan ahead.
For example, it might be more convenient to start traveling a little earlier or later depending on the weather forecast.
The weather forecast for today indicates that the cold will be felt across the nation. The conditions are worse in the Midwest and near the Midwest, because the powerful Siberian Express of arctic air arrives.
The air temperature will drop with wind chill values as low as minus 10 degrees before nightfall in Williamsport, according to the National Weather Service in State College.
The rain that fell early likely transitioned to snow making travel hazardous as wind gusts could reach 38 mph.
The snow accumulation will not be deep, forecast for less than 1 inch possible.
Wind chill values can be as low as -15 through the early morning hours of Christmas Eve.
Saturday, it will be mostly cloudy but the high will only reach near 14. West wind around 17 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph. Christmas Eve will also be cold, around 9 o’clock.
Christmas Day will be partly sunny, with a high near 22 and a low of 8 at night.
It warms up a bit on Monday, with partly sunny conditions, a day when many return Christmas gifts to stores. It will be bitterly cold though, with a high near 25.
Temperatures don’t turn pleasant until Wednesday when the city and region can expect a high near 32 and partly sunny conditions.
PennDOT has a complete winter driving safety tip. It could potentially save lives or misery for those during the winter.
• Listen to weather and travel advice, but if you don’t have to travel in bad weather, don’t.
• Keep your gas tank at least half full.
• Slow down and increase following distance.
• Avoid sudden stops and starts.
• Beware of roads that may look wet, but are actually frozen, often called “black ice.”
• Use extra caution on bridges and ramps, where ice can often form without warning.
• Bring a cell phone.
• Do not use cruise control when driving on snow-covered roads.
• State law requires you to turn on your headlights when your wipers are on.
• Use your low beams in particularly bad weather, especially in cases of heavy or blowing snow.
• Remove ice and snow from windows, mirrors, and all vehicle lights before you drive and as often as necessary.
• Remove snow and ice from the hood and roof of your vehicle. State law states that if snow or ice from your vehicle hits a vehicle or person and causes death or injury, you can be ticketed.
• Do not park or leave your vehicle on snow emergency roads.
• Do not pass or enter between trucks that are plowing in a plow line (several trucks are plowing side by side).
• Make sure someone else knows where you are going and when you expect to arrive. If you encounter an emergency and need help, someone will know where to look for you.
• If you do become stranded, it is better to stay with your vehicle until help arrives. Run the engine every hour or so, but make sure the exhaust is clear and keep the downwind window cracked.
• Don’t drink and drive, and always wear your seat belt.