WILKES-BARRE — We know it’s coming. The question is how much.
With the region facing its second major winter storm in less than a week, meteorologists from the National Weather Service and other outlets predict that the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton areas can expect 6 to 12 inches of snow — possibly more — through early Wednesday evening.
For those who care, this chilly blast has been dubbed Winter Storm Quinn.
In a mark of how serious state officials expect Quinn to be, a series of highway restrictions across Pennsylvania was announced Tuesday and they were to take effect at midnight Wednesday. Gov. Tom Wolf also has declared a state of emergency for 26 counties, including Luzerne and Lackawanna.
Here is what you need to know, including road restrictions and changes to bus services:
Snow was expected to begin Tuesday night, but the brunt of the snowfall will hit the region Wednesday. Some higher elevations, including southern Luzerne County and parts of the Poconos, could see as much as 15 to 18 inches. Generally speaking, forecasts suggest that snowfalls will taper off west of I-81.
The storm can be accurately described as a nor’easter, which is a cyclonic winter storm, with counterclockwise winds traveling around a low pressure area at the center. Nor’easters are coastal storms, and their name comes from the fact that the winds come from the northeast.
The National Weather Service said nor’easters are responsible for most of Pennsylvania’s major winter storms.
Travel will be dangerous, especially by Wednesday afternoon, and that will apply to much of eastern and central Pennsylvania, not just our region.
Beginning at midnight Wednesday, PennDOT imposed a ban on empty straight trucks, large combination vehicles (tandem trailers and double trailers), tractors hauling empty trailers, trailers pulled by passenger vehicles, motorcycles and recreational vehicles, or RVs, on a significant swath of the state’s highways.
The ban includes all of I-81 — that’s right, from the Maryland to New York state borders — as well as I-80 from I-81 to the New Jersey line as well as I-380 and I-84 in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
At the same time, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will prohibit these vehicles from traveling the northeastern extension between the Lehigh Tunnel and Clarks Summit.
Additionally, starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday, all commercial vehicles will be banned on I-380 and I-84 within Pennsylvania.
Restrictions will remain in place as long as warranted through the storm. As conditions develop, speed restrictions and wider truck and vehicle bans will be considered on these routes.
“This storm may not have the extremely high winds as the one last week, but it will dump significant amounts of snow across a wider area and that prospect is moving us to take additional aggressive steps to restrict heavier vehicles from the interstates,” Wolf said.
“I cannot stress enough the importance for everyone to heed weather forecasts, listen to directions from emergency officials, and plan accordingly,” he added.
PennDOT says two heavy-duty tow trucks are being positioned along Interstate 84 in Pike County and one heavy duty tow truck in each of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties to deal with any issues on Interstates 80 and 81.
PennDOT also is moving five plow trucks and two graders along with 18 employees into Pike County to address any issues on Interstate 84, as well as 20 plow trucks and two graders along with 46 employees to address any issues on Interstates 80, 380, and Route 33 in Monroe County and the Lehigh Valley. The crews are being moved from western Pennsylvania to assist in this storm response.
• Martz Trailways announced on its website, martztrailways.com, that all service between Northeastern Pennsylvania and New York and Philadelphia will be canceled Wednesday, and all terminals closed. The company said it will make announcements about Thursday’s service when appropriate.
• Luzerne County Transportation Authority announced Tuesday evening it was shutting down Wednesday. That means no bus service and no shared ride van services.
• In Scranton, the County of Lackawanna Transit system announced on its website, www.coltsbus.com, that riders should be prepared for the possible use of snow routes Wednesday.
• In Kingston, borough officials say parking will be prohibited on the even-numbered side of the streets from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday.
• In Forty Fort, there will be a parking ban from 9 a.m. Wednesday until 7 a.m. Thursday.
• Plymouth has implemented snow emergency routes and parking restrictions until further notice.
• Exeter Borough: Parking ban on Wyoming Avenue in effect from midnight Wednesday through the snowstorm.
A PennDOT employee moves anti-skid material in the Luzerne salt shed on Tuesday afternoon. Trucks were filling the shed with salt and anti-skid all morning, and about four trucks an hour were arriving.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL030718Storm1-7.jpgA PennDOT employee moves anti-skid material in the Luzerne salt shed on Tuesday afternoon. Trucks were filling the shed with salt and anti-skid all morning, and about four trucks an hour were arriving. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Drivers wait to deposit anti-skid material in the Luzerne salt shed on Tuesday. The anti-skid is made of rock and sand.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL030718Storm2-7.jpgDrivers wait to deposit anti-skid material in the Luzerne salt shed on Tuesday. The anti-skid is made of rock and sand. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Major storm expected to hammer region today