Hurricane Sandy Looms

The early effects of Hurricane Sandy began moving into Pennsylvania late Sunday and with the heaviest rainfall expected on the front side of the massive storm, the flash flooding risk begins today.

The National Weather Service is projecting as much as 10 inches of rainfall associated with Sandy, with the heaviest rains coming in the southeast and southern tier portions of the Commonwealth. Rain will be the main threat on Monday, with high winds taking over late in the day and into Tuesday. Officials are reminding residents to clear their porches and yards of items that might become projectiles in Tropical Storm-strength winds. The winds could also knock out power for large areas of the state, much like they did in last year’s Hurricane Irene.

President Obama has declared a disaster emergency for Pennsylvania and other states in the storm’s path. That will allow Governor Tom Corbett to apply for federal assistance for the steps taken to prepare for Sandy.

State Officials, Utilities Prepare for Major Storm

Utilities are preparing for the potential of significant damage and power outages as Hurricane Sandy moves up the coast.   They’re bringing in extra crews and following the forecast.

PPL spokesman Joe Nixon says they have sister utilities in Kentucky and they’re already arranging to have them come in. They’re also reaching out  to the western states.

First Energy is taking similar steps.  Spokesman Scott Surgeoner says they’re moving crews in from service areas not impacted by the storm to those areas most likely to be hit.  He says they’re also working with mutual assistance organizations to have additional crews ready to restore service if needed.

The storm will be the first major test for changes made after Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and the October snowstorm last year. First Energy has a 24 hour outage center on its home page that can be accessed by smart phone. The utility has agreements to place staff at a number of county emergency management offices to aid in coordinating power restoration. PPL has added capacity to its customer contact center to better handle high volume periods.

The utilities want people to notify them if their power goes out. Customers of First Energy utilities can call 1-888-544-4877. The number connects to an interactive system. Customers can also use the outage center on line.

PPL customers can call 1-800-342-5775. They can also use the on line outage center.

Despite the best efforts of the utilities, there could be prolonged power outages.  If you lose service, Surgeoner says don’t turn to unsafe methods of keeping warm. He says propane ovens or stoves should not be used to try to heat the house; they can cause carbon monoxide fumes to build up.  He says generators must be installed properly and used in well ventilated areas where fumes cannot come into your living space.

All downed power lines should be treated as live wires. Damaged power lines should be reported to the utility. Downed wires can also be reported to 911.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is also urging residents to prepare.  You can get a check list on line.

Governor Corbett toured areas hit by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee last year and urged people to be prepared for this storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is urging preparations all along the East Coast.

New Life Jacket Regulations to Take Effect

From November 1st through April 30th, boaters will be required to wear life jacket while on a boat less than 16-feet long, as well as all canoes & kayaks.  Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission spokesman Eric Levis says a disproportionate number of boating fatalities occur during these cold weather months. 

Levis tells Radio PA that life jackets will save you from drowning in the event of cold water shock.  “If you’ve ever been in cold water, and I have, it becomes very difficult to swim.  Your body is cold, you’re shivering, you may start hyperventilating.  The life jackets will help.” 

The Commission passed the new, statewide regulation earlier this fall.  It will be in effect annually during the colder months. 

The Fish & Boat Commission has also approved a mentored youth fishing pilot program, which will be rolled out in the southeast region this coming March – the weekend before the regional trout season opens.  Levis says details on which waters will be involved, and how to register, are still being finalized.

PA Bans Gas Chambers for Dogs, Cats

Pennsylvania has become the 20th state to ban the use of gas chambers to put down shelter animals.  It’s named “Daniel’s Law,” after a resilient beagle that spent 15-minutes inside an Alabama shelter’s gas chamber, only to walk out with his tail wagging.  “Daniel” now has a new family, and is said to be doing well. 

“Quite frankly, we need to solve the problem of why we have so many healthy and adoptable animals that need to find homes first.  But we’ve considered, for a very long time, euthanasia by injection as the only acceptable and humane means of euthanasia at animal shelters,” President & CEO of the American Humane Association Robin Ganzert tells Radio PA. 

She lauds Pennsylvania’s overhauled Animal Destruction Method Authorization Act.  It bans the gassing of dogs & cats, ensures injections are given by licensed technicians and requires groups to disclose the specifics of their euthanasia method. 

The bill passed both chambers of the General Assembly with bipartisan support, and  Governor Tom Corbett signed it this week.  Pennsylvania reportedly had only three rural shelters still using carbon-monoxide.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 10.26.12

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul provide details on the approach of “Frankenstorm,” a massive weather system that seems headed for the Keystone State in the early part of next week. Components include Hurricane Sandy from the south, an early winter system from the west and arctic air from the north. Included in the program: information about state preparations and tips for riding out the storm at home. We also bring you portions of the debate between the state Attorney General candidates and profile the Republican running for state Treasurer (check back next week for a profile on Democratic incumbent Rob McCord).

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


Latest Forecast Tracks Bring Sandy to Pennsylvania on Tuesday & Wednesday

The effects of Hurricane Sandy may reach Pennsylvania as early as Sunday, but according to the National Hurricane Center the storm itself is expected to come ashore near the New Jersey-Delaware border and then track directly over Pennsylvania late Tuesday and into Wednesday.

The main concern is that the tropical storm could collide with a westward-moving early winter system and park itself over the region for days, bringing heavy rains, winds and possibly snow in higher elevations. Officials are urging everyone in the path of Sandy to use their time wisely this weekend, preparing emergency kits with at least three days of drinking water and other necessities, as well as clearing storm drains and spouting, which may be clogged with fallen leaves.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency says this potential “superstorm” could bring prolonged power outages that may last several days.

Gov. Signs Scores of Bills

Lawmakers’ late session flurry of activity is yielding dozens of new laws, as Governor Tom Corbett signed nearly 50 of them on Wednesday.  Here’s just a small sampling:

One will limit the number of hours a child performer can work, and defines reality TV, to make sure those children are protected just like they would be on a movie set.

Another will authorize local governments to create “land banks” to combat blighted and abandoned properties.

A series of bills will help farmers move their larger equipment safely

Veterans will now receive a special designation on their Pennsylvania driver’s licenses.

Small-scale beekeepers will be exempt from costly regulations that were threatening the hobby.

A Veterans Trust Fund will be established, funded in party by new “Honoring Our Veterans” license plates. 

Corbett was also signing a series of law-enforcement bills on Thursday morning.  They include the second half of Pennsylvania’s Justice Reinvestment initiative, and a new offense for gang recruitment.

Perfect Storm II?

Sunday marks 21 years to the day after the formation of the system that became known as “The Perfect Storm.” Also known as the Halloween Nor’easter of 1991, the system was a confluence of a hurricane and a cold front. The ensuing monster storm lashed the east coast for days and was immortalized in the movie that highlighted the story of the Andrea Gail, a commercial fishing vessel lost at sea.

Flash forward to 2012 and similar weather ingredients are cooking in the Atlantic and over land. Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy, currently expected to run parallel to the East Coast, could clash with an early winter system moving in from the west and a blast of arctic air from the north. The result could be several days of winds, heavy rain and possibly snow in parts of the east.

The systems are expected to begin having an impact in the Mid-Atlantic region on Sunday with the worst of the storms coming late Monday or early Tuesday.


Non-partisan Group Embarks on Different Kind of Campaign

At least one campaign is bringing together both Democrats and Republicans this election season.  The Campaign to Fix the Debt seeks to engage and educate the public on the issue of the nation’s $16-trillion dollar debt.  The list of supporters features some prominent names from both sides of the aisle.  For instance, former Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA) is a co-chair of the national campaign and former Governor Mark Schweiker (R-PA) is a member of the Pennsylvania Steering Committee. 

President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Business Council Dave Patti realizes $16-trillion is a hard number to grasp, so he used the analogy of basketball start LeBron James who made $42-million dollars last year.  “Well, if he plays for another 24,000 seasons he’ll make his first trillion dollars.”    

Fellow Pennsylvania Steering Committee member, and former Pennsylvania Democrat Party Chair, TJ Rooney says these are not abstract issues.  “Inaction on the fiscal cliff and the debt are hindering the nation’s economic recovery,” he told reporters on a recent conference call. 

The diverse group is taking a grassroots approach to urge policymakers in Washington to set aside their differences and address this issue.  Nearly 290,000 have signed their online petition.

Fans, Coaches, Players Fired Up for PSU vs. OSU

They’re all big games to first year Penn State football coach Bill O’Brien, but even he acknowledges things will be a bit different this Saturday evening.  “For me to sit up here and say it’s not a big game, you know, that’s crazy,” O’Brien said during Tuesday’s media availability.  “This is Ohio State.” 

The Buckeyes are a perfect 8 – 0 so far this year; Penn State is undefeated in Big Ten action (5 – 2 overall).  Neither school is eligible to play post season football this year, however, due to NCAA sanctions.  That twist appears to be making Beaver Stadium and even bigger stage when the two proud programs clash Saturday evening on national TV. 

A record crowd of students has been camping out in “Nittanyville” since Monday night, a phenomenon that has not gone unnoticed by Coach O’Brien.  “That’s just what this place is all about.  A student body that works hard in the classroom, supports their football team, and all their athletic teams.” 

O’Brien is calling on fans to arrive early, to wear white and to be loud (but respectful) throughout the entire game. 

“For all of our seniors, it’s our last WhiteOut, our last time to go out here in front of a WhiteOut crowd and the last time we’ll play Ohio State,” says senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill.  “In my opinion it’s the biggest game for us.” 

A limited number of tickets remains for the 5:30pm game.