A late January storm brought snow to Saucon Valley Tuesday, with several inches accumulating by the evening rush hour, which was affected by the wintry weather.
With snow falling moderately to heavily at times, even major roads like Route 378 in Lower Saucon Township became snow-covered and treacherous, particularly for motorists without four-wheel drive.
At around 4 p.m. a number of northbound drivers struggled to crest the mountain, and southbound traffic was backing up from the township border with the City of Bethlehem toward Five Points and beyond.
Saucon Valley schools were closed Tuesday, so local roads were free of school buses. However, most businesses were open and just as many workers began to leave, road conditions deteriorated rapidly.
The Lower Saucon Township Police Department issued a warning to motorists to stay off the roads if possible, due to hazardous conditions.
Speed limits on interstates in Pennsylvania were reduced to 45 mph because of the storm and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation temporarily restricted commercial vehicles to the right lane only on the entire section of I-78 in the state, part of which is located in Saucon Valley.
By around 8 p.m. the snow was ending across the area, but what fell could quickly freeze solid as temperatures plummet over the next 24 hours.
A piece of the polar vortex air mass is descending south into the continental U.S., bringing with it the coldest air parts of the country have experienced in 20 years.
In east central Pennsylvania the cold may not be record-setting, but the National Weather Service said “dangerously low wind chills are expected Wednesday night and Thursday.”
Wednesday night’s low temperature is forecast to be 2 degrees, and Thursday’s high temperature is forecast to be just 15 degrees.
On Wednesday as the Arctic air invades the area, it could be accompanied by snow showers and squalls, the NWS also warned.
Squalls could “result in gusty winds, quick snow accumulation, significantly reduced visibility, and hazardous driving conditions,” a hazardous weather outlook stated.