The governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey declared state of emergencies ahead of this weekend's snowstorm, which is already making an impact in the Midwest.
On Friday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a state of emergency declaration to give officials access to more storm-related resources. All commercial traffic, including buses, will be banned from travel on most interstates and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The commercial vehicle ban starts at noon Saturday and ends noon Sunday.
"We want to be aggressive in managing this storm, during which snowfall rates could exceed one to two inches per hour," Wolf said during a press conference in Harrisburg. "Our top concern is the safety of residents. If you do not have to travel during the storm, please avoid it. Please heed warnings from emergency responders and personnel, and remember to check on your neighbors, especially the elderly."
Officials said motorists should drive cautiously and limit travel during the storm.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced a state of emergency Friday, which kicks in on Saturday. Up to 2,500 plows and spreaders will be available for officials.
"The latest forecasts continue to indicate that New Jersey will receive significant snow this weekend," Murphy said in Trenton. "We are closely monitoring the approaching snow storm and are prepared to keep New Jerseyans safe. Residents are urged to stay off the roads to the extent possible and always use their best judgment when traveling."
The winter storm, dubbed Winter Storm Harper, is already making travel a nightmare in the Plains and Midwest before pushing into the Northeast. According to The Weather Channel, Harper dumped more than a foot of snow in southeastern South Dakota.
Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, Boston, Hartford, Providence, Pittsburgh, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus and Des Moines are all under winter storm watches or warnings. The storm is expected to continue bringing snow to New York State and New England through Sunday.
The storm has also wreaked havoc on air travel, according to FlightAware. More than 460 flights were cancelled and more than 3,500 delays in the U.S.
AccuWeather reports that 40 inches of snow might hit the mountains in northern New England.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said the snow could fall at a rate of two to three inches per hour, even when the storm reaches its end Sunday night. Wind gusts between 35 and 50 mph will frequently happen during the storm, and flooding could be a concern. Temperatures could drop quickly, meaning wet and slushy areas will freeze.
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