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Historic storm blasts Pennsylvania

Written by Tim Lambert, witf Multimedia News Director | Jan 23, 2016 7:15 PM
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Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Rick Flinn and State Meteorologist Jeff Jumper give a winter storm update today. (Courtesy PA Internet News Service)

(Harrisburg) -- Some are calling the major snowstorm that ripped through the midstate the biggest in recorded history.  

Governor Tom Wolf says the goal of his administration's approach to the storm is a simple one.

"This is an historic snowstorm. This is a huge challenge for Pennsylvania. We are deploying all of our resources to try to make sure the people of Pennsylvania are safe," he said during a briefing at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency's headquarters. "That is my biggest priority and that is what I will continue to work toward."

Heavy snow, sometimes falling at a rate of two to three inches an hour, buried portions of the region under as much as three feet of the white stuff in some areas.

The governor Tom Wolf said he would not institute a "travel" ban -- but urged people to stay off the roads.

"It's self-restraint. We need everybody in Pennsylvania to exercise self-retraint. That's going to be the best for everybody."

The only major problem that surfaced occurred when more than 500 vehicles were stranded for hours and hours along the Turnpike between Bedford and Somerset in western Pennsylvania.

"I'm not pleased when one person is inconvenienced by this and that has certainly happened out between Bedford and Somerset," Wolf said." I'm not pleased with that. We'll look at what happened and see if there are things we can do better in the future."

The incident happened in the westbound lanes after tractor trailers could not climb a hill toward the Allegheny tunnels and traffic backed up behind them.

Some buses were carrying the Duquesne University men's basketball team and the Temple University gymnastics squad.

Members of the Pennsylvania National Guard was deployed to assist the effort to re-open the toll road.

A turnpike spokeswoman says no one is expected to spend a second night on the snow-choked highway.

Renee Colburn says front end loaders and members of the National Guard began to dig out cars and trucks this afternoon.

Crews also are removing barriers between the eastbound and westbound lanes and allowing cars to fuel up at a turnpike maintenance shed before getting off the highway.

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Governor Tom Wolf tours the PEMA Emergency Operations Center today, where he is given winter storm updates. (Courtesy of PA Internet News Service)

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