A 'polar coaster'


In this 2018 file photo, a woman clears snow on Main Street in Monongahela while her daughter gathers snow to make a snow turtle after snowy conditions cancelled school. This year, residents should expect a “polar coaster” of biting cold and warm ups, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.

With Thursday expected be in the 40s, followed by a weekend in the high 60s, we may be getting a preview of how winter will act.

Peter Geiger, editor of the Farmer’s Almanac, predicted this winter will be a “polar coaster,” moving from frosty and frigid temperatures to a “winterlude” of warmer ones. 

But when this area hits the cold spells, Geiger said, they will be colder than normal. He predicted winter’s worst would be during the final week of January and stay into February, with spring-like weather in April.

“Overall, there will be a normal amount of precipitation,” said Geiger.

When the snow does fly, recently introduced legislation seeks to penalize anyone who doesn’t take the time to clean their vehicle of snow and ice before they drive – regardless of whether it causes an accident.

State law already provides for penalties if uncleared snow or ice dislodges and causes injury or death. The proposed new law, however, would impose fines between $25 and $75 for anyone caught driving with snow or ice they neglected to clear off.

Jay Ofsanik, local safety officer for the state Department of Transportation, said clearing vehicles for travel is an important part of winter travel.

“There’s more a driver needs to be aware of than just a spot cleared on the windshield,” Ofsanik said. “The biggest aspect is that you need to see all the traffic around you.”

He said it’s important to remove large amounts of snow and ice from the vehicle’s hood, roof and rear to prevent chunks from dislodging, potentially injuring or killing someone. Those chunks can also cause visibility issues for other drivers if a dislodged mass hits another vehicle’s windshield.

“It all comes down to visibility,” Ofsanik said. “We can’t react to what we can’t see.”

Routine vehicle checks, starting now, are also a good idea to prepare for the snow, he said.

He suggested checking the tread on tires or switching over to winter ones, and checking wipers and making sure cars have ample wiper fluid.

And when the snow starts, said Ofsanik, motorists need to be patient.

“You have to slow down for the conditions,” Ofsanik said. “If everyone slows down, allow extra time for travel times, we can all get to our destinations.”

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