PennDOT warning: Stay home because it's going to get icy

Harper Ho
York Dispatch

A winter storm on Sunday morning could make travel treacherous for motorists in central Pennsylvania.

Icy conditions are expected across the state and officials are advising motorists to stay safe and stay home.

“We are prepared and will work before and throughout the storm,” said Yassmin Gramian, secretary of the state Department of Transportation.

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Meteorologists are predicting a brief period of wintery mix before changing to freezing rain for most of Sunday. 

A winter weather advisory will be in effect from 5 a.m. to noon Sunday and includes York, Lancaster, Dauphin, Lebanon, Cumberland and Adams counties. 

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Freezing rain and sleet is likely before before 11 a.m., then rain that should stretch into Sunday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

PennDOT pre-treated roadways with salt, but this is not a silver bullet, the department said.

“Any icing presents a challenge because rain will wash away some material, and ice is less visible to motorists than snow,” Gramian said.

More:York County Regional Police, a newly merged department, hits the streets

Roads that look wet might actually be icy in freezing temperatures. Ice can also form without warning on bridges and highway ramps, PennDOT said.

Postpone unnecessary travel during the storm and monitor weather forecasts for changing conditions, PennDOT said. Plan on slippery road conditions.

Last winter in Pennsylvania, preliminary data shows that there were 301 crashes with four fatalities and 143 injuries on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways, according to PennDOT.

Aggressive driving such as speeding or making careless lane changes were a factor in these cases.

Here's the forecast from the weather service:

Sunday: Freezing rain and sleet likely before 10 a.m., then rain or freezing rain between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., then rain after 11 a.m.. High near 40. Winds could gust as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New ice accumulation of less than a 0.1 of an inch possible. New sleet accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Sunday Night: A chance of rain, mainly before 7 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 23. Winds could gust as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 32. Wind gusts as high as 23 mph.

— Reach Harper Ho at hho@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @howdyhoharper.