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Turnpike official: Old forecast led to stranded drivers

The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — A Pennsylvania Turnpike official says the agency relied on an early, less-serious forecast in preparing for last month’s snowstorm that left hundreds of motorists stranded.

In this photo provided by Michael Watkins, traffic is at a standstill on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Bedford, Pa., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016.   The Duquesne men's basketball team and Temple University's women's gymnastics team are stuck on the Turnpike due to treacherous weather conditions. A mammoth winter storm crawled up the U.S. East Coast on Saturday, making roads impassable, shutting down mass transit, and bringing Washington and New York City to a standstill. (AP Photo/Michael Watkins via AP)

Turnpike Commission Chairman Sean Logan testified Tuesday before a state Senate committee on the state’s response to the storm.

He says officials planned around a Jan. 22 midafternoon advisory that called for a “manageable range” of snow in central Pennsylvania. He says it predicted about eight inches of snow.

Logan says they didn’t get their next update with predictions to a foot or two of snow until almost 10 p.m. Lawmakers countered that TV news had updated predictions throughout the day.

More than 500 vehicles were stranded for almost 24 hours on a 16-mile stretch of the turnpike 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

It started when two tractor-trailers became disabled and blocked lanes.