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State of emergency declared in Pennsylvania ahead of weekend storm

Gov. Tom Wolf has declared a state of emergency ahead of this weekend's winter storm.

WINTER STORM WARNING issued ahead of weekend snow, sleet, freezing rain

The state of emergency will allow for increased assistance with storm-related needs.

State officials are urging motorists to use caution during the storm and to postpone travel, if possible.

“We want to be aggressive in managing this storm, during which snowfall rates could exceed 1 to 2 inches per hour,” Wolf said. “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.”

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A commercial vehicle ban went into effect at noon on Saturday on all interstates except Interstate 95, I-676, I-476, I-76, and I-276 in southeastern Pennsylvania. The ban is also in effect on the U.S. 22 expressway in the Lehigh Valley and the Pennsylvania Route 33 expressway in Northampton and Monroe counties.

Speed limits will be restricted to 45 mph on the interstates and expressways as the storm progresses.

The ban will be lifted from I-83, I-81 south of I-83, I-283, I-176 and the Turnpike from the New Jersey state line to the Carlisle exit at 2:30 p.m.

At 4:30 p.m. the state's ban will be removed for the Turnpike mainline from the Ohio state line to the Carlisle Exit, and interstates south and west of the Turnpike – Interstate 70, I-79, I-279, and I-376.

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“Travel will be very challenging this weekend with the combination of heavy snow, high winds, sleet, freezing and plain rain and then a rapid drop in temperatures on Sunday,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “If you must travel, please check 511PA for the latest conditions and be prepared in case extreme conditions trigger long delays on your route.”

The state of emergency will also allow for additional help from neighboring states and standing up the Pennsylvania National Guard, to ensure a swift response to possible changing priorities.

The Commonwealth Response Coordination Center was activated Saturday at 8 a.m.

The CRCC coordinates the deployment of state agency resources to counties that do not have the capability to respond as needed or have exhausted all available resources at the county level.

“We are taking an aggressive approach to preparedness for this winter storm and having the CRCC activated ensures all hands are on deck and focused on a coordinated effort to provide help where needed as quickly as possible,” Wolf said. “First and foremost, I want all Pennsylvanians to be safe. We are doing all we can to help with that.”

Stay with Channel 11 News and Severe Weather Team 11 as we track the storm and its impact on our area.