HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A fast-moving winter storm took aim at Pennsylvania late Tuesday, threatening to bring a fresh coating of snow and ice to a state that's already seen more than its share of winter weather with weeks and weeks left in the season.
Forecasters said the state's remote northern tier could see its deepest snowfall of the season, while the vast and populous eastern region south of Interstate 80 was in line for ice, sleet or snow.
"It's not an easy forecast by any means — a little bit of everything for everybody, it seems like," said meteorologist John LaCorte with the National Weather Service in State College. "About the only thing we probably won't have is locusts."
State officials planned to gather at the headquarters of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency overnight, starting Tuesday evening with representatives from PennDOT, the State Police, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the National Guard. Shortly before midnight they will be joined by the Red Cross and a host of other state agencies, said PEMA spokesman Cory Angell.
"We already have snow covered trees. We had some outages in the central Pennsylvania area last night," Angell said. "We throw some ice on top of that, it adds the potential of downed trees. You get downed trees, you get downed power lines."
The storm was expected to start rolling into the western areas of the state shortly after dark and reach the Harrisburg area around 10 p.m. Significant accumulations — perhaps a half-inch of ice in some areas — were expected to be on the ground by the Wednesday morning commute.
"We have a pretty strong expectation that we'll have trees down, entangled with power lines, and that will affect our traffic or possibly close some roads, maybe even affect some of our trucks getting through," said Greg Penny, a spokesman for the PennDOT region around Harrisburg.
"It's going to be a messy commute, there's no way around that," Penny said.
The death of a West Virginia trucker on Monday was caused in part by weather conditions, state police said. He was directing traffic around his tractor-trailer near Gettysburg after it became stuck in the snow when he was struck by a passing vehicle.
In the Philadelphia area, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said service disruptions were possible on Wednesday, in part because overhead lines supply power to its trains and trolleys.
The transit agency was putting extra people on duty and expanding service on its two busiest train lines overnight to keep some buses off icy roads.
As a sign of how bad the winter has been in Philadelphia, WPVI-TV Channel 6 has taken down it balloon over the zoo because of damage from the snow. The weight of snow on the ZooBalloon was estimated at more than five tons.