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Weather service eyed for Pa. welcome centers

December 29, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

STATE LINE, Pa. - Travelers on Interstate 81 could have used a continuous weather update on Monday evening in the wake of a snowstorm heading north.

Next year they'll probably have it when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation installs a 24-hour weather service at several welcome centers throughout the state.

"It looks very positive at this point. Our game plan is to further expand it, beginning this summer," said Ed Myslewicz, transportation department spokesman.

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The transportation department launched a pilot program with AccuWeather Inc. of State College, Pa., last spring to provide weather forecasts for travelers who visited the welcome centers along Interstate 81 in State Line, and along Interstate 70 in Claysville, Pa.

Customers were surveyed at both centers to determine how they use the information and what other types of weather information would be useful.

Of the more than 250 surveys returned, about 80 percent wrote that the state should provide and pay for the weather service at the welcome centers, Myslewicz said.

"We're looking at the survey results now and so far we've received a very positive response," he said.

Once installed, a continuous weather forecast will appear on a television screen at the welcome centers. The local radar will be updated every five minutes and the highway and destination forecasts will be revised every hour, said Michael Steinberg, senior vice president of AccuWeather.

"It's designed so that in a couple of minutes you get to see all of the information. We recognize you're traveling and we want to give it to you quickly and in a way that you can understand and follow easily," Steinberg said.

Weather forecasts will be customized for the area surrounding each welcome center, Steinberg said.

For example, the center on I-81 in State Line will show what the weather is in Greencastle, Waynesboro, and Chambersburg, Pa.

The screen will also show what the weather is at other Pennsylvania destinations and a three-day extended outlook, he said.

"I think it's always nice to know what the weather is going to be. It helps with making traveling plans and decisions ... Having that kind of information is very helpful," Steinberg said.

The state transportation department operates 11 welcome centers along the major highway entrances to the state. It has not been determined yet how many or which welcome centers will provide the weather information, Myslewicz said.

Nearly 2.8 million guests visited Pennsylvania welcome centers in 1996.

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