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How PennDOT Prepares for Winter Weather in Centre County

by on December 16, 2019 12:00 PM

Video by Stephen Svitko/Centre County Report

It's been awhile since we've had some serious snow in Centre County, but it's December and that can change at any time.

A winter weather advisory is in effect from 5 p.m. Monday to 11 a.m. Tuesday, with less than an inch of snow and a glaze of ice in the forecast, according to the National Weather Service. While that's not shaping up to be a major weather event, it could make for slippery roads and it, along with the often unpredictable Pennsylvania winter, is why PennDOT tries to stay prepared all year long.

Jeff Cantolina, assistant highway maintenance director, says tracking weather systems and specific snow and ice effects can be tricky in Pennsylvania, especially in mountain towns like Snow Shoe and Philipsburg.

"That's our biggest trouble that we have," Cantolina said. "We try to follow the weather and the radar. Sometimes they don't match the different weather systems."

This year the delay in bad weather allowed PennDOT to stockpile plenty of salt, which it uses to treat roads directly and to make brine.

"We mix it together with water and we pump it out to the brine tanks we have here in Bellefonte," Cantolina said. "Our crews will then come in and pick up the brine out of the brine tanks and transport it out to the stockpiles."

Then crews use that liquid to pre-treat the roads for safer driving. They want to ask drivers to think about their safety, too.

"The big thing is to try to give our guys the room that they need, to not be right up on them, and give them the room they need to maneuver" Cantolina said.

Duty doesn't only call when the snow falls. Cantolina and his crew work year-round to repair and maintain equipment.

Statewide, PennDOT uses more than 2,200 trucks, plows and salt spreaders, operated by 4,500 on-the-road workers, all of them working to keep roads and drivers safe.

The Centre County Report is produced by students and faculty from Penn State's College of Communications. It is designed to serve a dual purpose. It is a source of news and information to the residents of Centre County.
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