Frigid weather grips area
LARRY NEFF/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS State police have been kept busy investigating numerous accidents, many being contributed to drifting snow across the roadways. One accident occurred just before 1 p.m. Saturday just north of the intersection of Route 903 and Maury Road in Penn Forest Township. A sport utility vehicle being operated north through the intersection encountered such a condition with the driver losing control. The unit left the right berm, crashed through a farm fence rolling several times before coming to rest on its wheels. Maury Road, pictured here, had numerous drifting conditions covering the roadway. PennDOT delivered snow fences to the area in the late fall, but they have not yet been erected.
Howling winds, freezing rain and snow and plunging temperatures over the long holiday weekend caused numerous accidents, including at least one fatality, some power outages and a lot of shivering in our area.
Low temps over the weekend hit 8 degrees on Saturday and 7 degrees on Sunday, as measured at Mount Pocono, said National Weather Service meteorologist Kristin Kline.
Wind speeds averaged 23 mph on Saturday, with gusts of up to 48 mph. On Sunday, winds averaged 26 mph with gusts up to 59 mph.
The wind chill Saturday night plummeted to a minus-17 degrees.
The frigid weather, of course, was not unusual for early January. But the breeze was brisker than expected.
"It was typical for this time of year," Kline said. "This was a fairly strong system, as far as how high the winds got. Basically we see a pattern that was set up with a coastal low pressure system. That low spinning out there was what gave us" the strong winds.
Kline expects more moderate temperatures and wind speeds in the coming days, but it will still be breezy.
"Over the next couple of days at Mount Pocono, it will still be mostly cloudy, with a small chance of light snow showers. The high temperatures will be around 25 degrees each day, with lows in the low-to-mid teens," she said. "It's still going to be breezy out there; we'll still have that northwest wind at about 10-20 mph."
Low temperatures and precipitation caused problems New Year's Eve, when freezing rain and snow coated roadways.
The icy conditions are being blamed for the death of Sean M. Weiser, 31, of Lykens, Schuylkill County, who died in a crash at about 7:45 a.m. on I-81 in Pine Grove Township.
A Philadelphia man died in a Sunday morning crash on Glenwood Road in Chestnuthill Township. It has yet to be determined whether the accident was weather related.
Frigid temperatures and precipitation also hampered firefighters as they battled a New Year's Eve blaze at the home of Marie Gemeinhardt, 82, of Hahn's Dairy Road in Lower Towamensing Township. Gemeinhardt was not injured in the fire.
The strong winds Saturday and Sunday may have knocked out power to PPL customers in Carbon, Monroe and Schuylkill counties, said PPL spokesman Paul Canevari.
"We had one in Carbon, 906 in Monroe and 45 in Schuylkill over the last three days," he said.
As of 7 a.m. this morning, four customers remained without power in Coolbaugh Township, Monroe County, and two in North Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, according to PPL.
But the windy, cold weather didn't seem to wreak widespread havoc in Carbon and Schuylkill counties.
Carbon County Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Nalesnik said he received no calls about any problems related to the weather.
John Blickley of the Schuylkill County Emergency Management Coordinator said, "We really didn't have any reports of any wind damage. We had just basically minor accidents throughout the weekend."
The frigid weather blasted across most of the United States over the weekend, frosting even balmy states such as Florida, where overnight temperatures hit a record-breaking 20 degrees in Jacksonville, according to a report by AccuWeather.com.