As if the polar vortex isn’t enough, sudden whiteouts called snow squalls are causing problems for the Northeast.
A snow squall is an intense, short-lived burst of heavy snowfall accompanied by gusty wind, according to the National Weather Service. Squalls can happen when there is no winter storm.
The phenomenon can create deadly highway conditions, as it suddenly reduces visibility and creates slick roads. It can “make roads a sheet of ice in minutes,” AccuWeather chief meteorologist, Bernie Rayno, says.
Snow squalls typically last less than an hour and might only leave behind a moderate amount of snow.
Wednesday, more than two dozen vehicles in central Pennsylvania were involved in a chain-reaction crash during a snow squall. About nine drivers were injured, according to Wyomissing Police Chief Jeffrey Biehl.
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Some cars were simply stuck on the road, unable to move, Biehl said. The crashes occurred just after 1 p.m. local time on Route 222, about 60 miles west of Philadelphia.
About an hour later, a second pileup was reported about 30 miles northeast on Interstate 78 near Hamburg.
In New York, there was a 20-car pileup on the state’s thruway between Buffalo and Rochester. Parts of New Jersey also saw blinding white-out conditions.
The National Weather Service advises delaying travel until after a snow squall passes. For those who find themselves in the middle of a squall while driving, reduce speed, turn on headlights and avoid suddenly braking.
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Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets