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Plows prepared as first major snowfall expected

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry PennDOT plow trucks are ready to roll Monday at the PennDOT shed on Conewango Avenue Extension.

When the snow flies — and in Warren County the snow will fly — PennDOT will be ready.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Warren County effective through noon Wednesday.

The NWS is calling for 5 to 10 inches of snow in most locations with 10 to 14 inches possible in the northwestern part of the county.

“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” according to the advisory. “The snow will be steady Monday night and Tuesday, but gradually transition to lake effect snow showers later Tuesday into Wednesday.”

Warren County School District is keeping an eye on the sky — and the roads.

“The district is watching the weather forecast,” Transportation Manager Mike Kiehl said. “I am preparing for my normal winter morning which includes an early morning drive and calls to PennDOT, bus contractors, etc. before making a decision on a two-hour delay, school closure, or normal school.”

PennDOT is ready and will be out clearing roads as needed, buses or not.

“Our last forecast was 6 to 12 starting tonight,” Warren County Maintenance Manager Adam Elms said Monday. “All of our trucks are ready to go. All of our materials have been delivered. Our buildings are full and ready.”

As needed, operators and trucks clear roads with higher average daily traffic every two to three hours and lesser roadways — those without yellow and white painted lines — every three to five hours, Elms said.

The crews are ready to get an early start if needed.

“The crews are on shifts starting today,” Elms said Monday. “That gives us staff there from 3 a.m. until 8 at night. We’re ready to go.”

The trucks distribute a 50-50 mix of salt and anti-skid.

Trucks working on higher traffic roads have a lower spinner that “gives us a better pattern that seems to stay on the road better,” Elms said. On other roads, the department uses higher spinners with better ground clearance.

All trucks are brine-equipped, Elms said. For every ton of salt-skid mix, 25 to 30 gallons of salt brine is added. Salt is already dissolved in the brine, causing the reactions on the road to happen faster. The wet material also sticks to the road better, Elms said.

The department starts getting ready for flying snow early in Warren County.

“We start preparations Oct. 1,” Elms said. “We wrap everything up around the beginning of November.”

The department’s efforts only go so far. Safety is up to the motorists after that.

“We advise people to drive with caution,” Elms said.

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