It's been months and months since people in the Valley have faced winter driving conditions, but that's predicted to change Thursday afternoon.

Morning rain is forecast to turn into wet snow in the afternoon followed by lake-effect flurries on Friday.

With freezing temperatures, roads that look wet may actually be icy, and extra caution is needed when approaching bridges and highway ramps where ice can form without warning, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

PennDOT has some reminders that apply to drivers in both Pennsylvania and Ohio:

  • Motorists should leave plenty of space - six car lengths - when following a truck that is plowing or spreading winter materials.
  • Slow down gradually and drive at a speed that suits the conditions.
  • Turn on your headlights.
  • Stay in your lane.
  • Increase your following distance.
  • Stay alert, keep looking as far ahead as possible and be patient.
  • Reduce in-car distractions since your full attention is required.
  • Use defroster and wipers.
  • Keep windows and mirrors free of snow and ice.
  • During whiteouts, come to a complete stop only when you can safely get as far off the road as possible or when there is a safe area to do so.
  • Do not stop in the flow of traffic since this could create a chain-reaction collision.
  • Do not pass a vehicle moving slowly or speed up to get away from a vehicle that is following too closely.
  • Give ample room for plow truck drivers to treat the roadways and never pass between two trucks operating in a plow line.
  • Always buckle up and never drink and drive.

PennDOT says its crews in Mercer and other northwest counties are prepared for the winter-like weather, with salt, anti-skid and other materials in good supply.