Snow blankets region
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS A train travels on the tracks along the Lehigh River this morning.
As daylight broke Thursday morning, the area was covered with a blanket of fluffy white snow.
But what looked liked a beautiful winter scene, quickly turned into a travel headache for motorists, as well as lost income as businesses shut down so employees remained safe.
Trudy's Pooch Parlor and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation driver's license center, both in Lehighton; and Mauch Chunk Trust Company bank branches were closed today.
By 6 a.m., a number of businesses across the Lehigh Valley shut down operations for the day and snow emergencies were in effect.
Locally, Carbon County Commissioners decided Wednesday that only essential personnel would need to respond to work on Thursday. Court cases scheduled for today are being rescheduled.
Schuylkill County followed suit early Thursday, closing the courthouse for the day.
All schools closed today and are now forced to make up yet another snow day.
Area residents reported up to three inches of snow in some locations.
Cheryl Swinburne of MaryD reported 2 inches fell as of 7:30 a.m.; Jason Kuntz recorded one-and-a-half inches in Gilbert. Shaun Strohl said he measured 3 inches in the Lehighton area.
Three inches were reported in West Penn Township; two-and-a-half inches fell in Mahoning Township; 2 in Coaldale; and one-and-one-quarter inches in Penn Forest Township.
Even North Carolina is getting snowed in. One former area resident who lives in the Winston-Salem area reported 4 inches of snow this morning.
By 7 a.m., vehicles were beginning to have problems on roadways.
One TIMES NEWS employee reported that he was forced to find a new route to work after his car couldn't make it up the Summit Hill-Lansford hill because it was too slippery.
Another vehicle was stuck in the Packerton Dip section of Mahoning Township because of extremely slick road conditions, shortly after 7 a.m.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation temporarily reduced the speed limit to 45 mph on Interstates 78, 80, 81, 176 and 380; U.S. Routes 22, 209, 222 and 422; and State Routes 33 and 309.
It also restricted certain vehicles from Interstates 78 and 81 in east central Pennsylvania.
The types of vehicles prohibited include: empty straight trucks; large combination vehicles (tandem trailers and doubles); Tractors hauling empty trailers; Trailers pulled by passenger vehicles; motorcycles; and recreational vehicles.
When conditions improve, PennDOT said that it will remove the travel restrictions.
The weather also forced PennDOT to close driver's license and photo centers in Snydersville, Lehighton, Hecktown, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Easton, Schuylkill Haven and Reading.
Customers who had scheduled appointments for driver skills tests will be contacted by the driver's license center staff to reschedule an appointment as soon as possible.
Still on track
Meteorologists are holding steady on their forecast for the Northeast as the Nor'easter treks up the coast after dropping dangerous amounts of ice in the South Tuesday and Wednesday.
According to the National Weather Service, 10 to 14 inches of snow with a trace of ice is possible for the area today and tonight. A chance of freezing rain to mix in during the afternoon hours is also possible for this afternoon.
The evening commute will become hazardous as snow accumulates throughout the day.
AccuWeather reports that up to 18 inches are still possible in some parts of our region.
Staying safein the storm
Officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation always remind motorists that if you do not need to be out on the road during the storm, stay inside. This allows plows to do their job safely and more efficiently.
They also offer the following tips to remain safe during the storm.
When driving and using your windshield wipers, turn on your headlights because it is the law. Watch for wet looking roads because it could be black ice. Do not use cruise control on snow-covered roadways. Slow down and increase distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Do not pass plow trucks.
If you get stranded, stay in your car until help arrives. Run the engine in increments to make sure snow doesn't get stuck in your tail pipe and you warm your vehicle. Also make sure to keep a window cracked so that carbon monoxide doesn't build in your car.
Also bring a cell phone in case you need to call for help, tell someone where you are going and pack an emergency kit for your car.
At home, emergency officials urge people to never run generators inside the home. Make sure the area the generator is operating in is well-ventilated to cut down on the amount of exhaust entering the residence.