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Wintertime already? Say it isn’t snow

Three days before Halloween, accumulations of 4 to 6 inches seen for high spots.

It might be obvious by now, but forecasters on Monday evening were warning of an early-season snow storm that could potentially hit early this morning and continue into Wednesday.

By this evening, as many as 4 inches of snow were expected in the valleys throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and New York’s southern tier and up to 6 inches at elevations 1,200 feet above sea level or higher, according to the National Weather Service office in Binghamton.

A winter weather advisory is in effect until 2 a.m. Wednesday.

In Luzerne County, sporadic light rain was expected throughout the night with a trace of accumulation. The mix is expected to turn completely to snow by noon today with wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour. Snow showers were expected through the evening.

Visibility will likely be reduced, and because of the potential high winds and heavy, wet snow, the NWS warned utility lines and tree branches might be pulled down.

Despite the unseasonably early storm, local municipalities and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District 4-0 assured they were prepared.

“We haven’t had our dry run yet, but we like to say that winter prep is a year-round thing, so everyone has gone through their snow maps,” PennDOT spokeswoman Karen Dussinger said.

Equipment has been serviced, road-clearing materials including salt are “stocked and loaded,” and workers are on call, she said. “We’re ready. We have a lot of veterans coming back,” she said.

Crews usually pour salty brine on the roads to prevent icing, but won’t this time because the rain expected before the snow would simply wash it away, Dussinger said.

Radio dispatchers and plow drivers are on call, however, and western PennDOT districts will relay conditions as the snow travels eastward across the state, she said.

Local municipalities were equally prepared. “We haven’t heard anything as far as accumulation or anything like that, but we’re ready if it hits,” said Ruth Ann Koval, a supervisor and the roadmaster in Bear Creek Township.

With heights near 2,000 feet above sea level, many of the township’s roads are within the maximum accumulation zone. The road crew is on call around the clock, she said, and has backup when necessary. “I mean, I even plow,” she said.

Valley municipalities such as Wilkes-Barre were also listening to weather reports and preparing for action. “The way our system works here, if we receive a call … we’ll move on it,” said Butch Frati, the city’s director of operations. “We’re not really expecting anything, but we’re prepared for something.”

The snowfall will likely vary greatly based on elevation, so because the city is in the valley and the ground temperature is relatively warm, he predicted little action would be necessary.

Still, the trucks equipped with spreaders were lined up in the garage, the worker call list was prepared and the materials supply dumps were fully stocked, he said.

“We think we’re ready,” he said.

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