HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — In anticipation of the upcoming winter season, the Wolf administration and the National Weather Service gave information to Pennsylvanians about snow squall alerting and warnings and ways to stay safe from dangerous winter weather hazards.

“State agencies have been preparing for winter weather for several weeks with coordination calls and exercises,” PEMA Director Randy Padfield said. “It’s important that the public understand their role in winter weather safety, not only to protect themselves and their loved ones but also first responders.”

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According to the NWS, snow squalls are classified as brief but intense periods of heavy snow accumulating up to 2 inches in 30 minutes, strong winds and whiteout conditions. Snow squalls commonly happen on days with partly cloudy skies and are known to cause issues with road conditions and drivers, leading to many multi-vehicle accidents that turn fatal.

“One of the things that makes snow squalls so dangerous is their tendency to produce icy roadways, or what we call a flash freeze,” NWS Meteorologist John Banghoff said. “Because they come on so suddenly, snow squalls can catch drivers off guard and lead to major transportation incidents, including deadly multi-vehicle accidents.”

NWS, PEMA, Pa. State Police, PennDOT and the Pa. Turnpike offer a variety of resources to educate drivers of these dangers and even show dramatic videos to simulate a real-life situation.

“The National Weather Service issues Snow Squall Warnings to alert for the sudden onset of life-threatening conditions encountered by highway travelers during snow squalls,” NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jonathan Guseman said. “If you are driving on an interstate when a Snow Squall Warning is issued, the best thing to do is to exit the roadway at the next opportunity.”

Drivers who must travel in these types of conditions can check 511PA for the latest in road closures and restrictions.