PENNSYLVANIA, USA — It has been a fairly quiet winter so far, although we all know winter is far from over, and pretty soon, the roads are bound to be snow-covered.
Pennsylvania is considered one of the most dangerous states to drive during the winter months. According to a new study, the Meteorologist in Charge with the National Weather Service office that forecasts for Northeastern PA is not surprised.
"The climate in Pennsylvania, we're on the edge of where you can get real severe winter weather. So you get wintery bursts, like a few weeks where it's snowy, it's cold, the roads are slippery, and then it gets mild," said Dave Nicosia.
Nicosia says that makes it harder for drivers to get used to driving in winter weather, unlike farther north in New England, for example.
Using data from the National Highway Transportation Agency's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the list of top ten most dangerous states for driving during the winter months has Pennsylvania at number 5.
The information was compiled from 2017 to 2019 and found that Pennsylvania's fatality rate ranked third with 86 deaths.
Sean Brown with PennDOT says what a storm brings changes how you address a storm.
"A lot of our more challenging storms are the ones where it is a mix. If it starts as rain, you can't pre-treat the roadway. But then it can freeze up and become icy, so you have to lay down a lot of material; otherwise, it can become very slick. So that can provide challenges, and our folks need to be able to figure out how to address those storms, and it changes from area to area," Brown said.
Pennsylvania is prone to those types of storms with mixed precipitation. And with PA's unique topography, you constantly have changing weather conditions depending on where in the state you are driving.
"The elevation changes, even the Wyoming Valley and the Lackawanna Valleys there, it can be warm enough where the roads are fine, and then you go up into the hills, and it's a different story. So I think that variability also plays into it as well," Nicosia explained.
PennDOT officials and meteorologists with the National Weather Service say the best way to stay safe during the winter months is, of course, to avoid travel in bad weather if you can, but also taking it slow and making sure your car is winter-ready.
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