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Forecasters: W.Pa. in for colder, wetter winter

Jacob Tierney
| Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, 6:30 p.m.
PennDOT drivers work their way through a snow plow training course in prperation for winter operations, at the PennDOT Latrobe Stockpile 23, in Unity Township, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.
PennDOT drivers work their way through a snow plow training course in prperation for winter operations, at the PennDOT Latrobe Stockpile 23, in Unity Township, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.
PennDOT drivers work their way through a snow plow training course in prperation for winter operations, at the PennDOT Latrobe Stockpile 23, in Unity Township, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.
DAN SPEICHER | Tribune-Review
PennDOT drivers work their way through a snow plow training course in prperation for winter operations, at the PennDOT Latrobe Stockpile 23, in Unity Township, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.
PennDOT drivers work their way through a snow plow training course in prperation for winter operations, at the PennDOT Latrobe Stockpile 23, in Unity Township, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.
PennDOT drivers work their way through a snow plow training course in prperation for winter operations, at the PennDOT Latrobe Stockpile 23, in Unity Township, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.
Operator instructor Pat Kadilack (left), give driver Jim Brumley advice, as PennDOT District 12 drivers go through training for snow plow operators in the use of wing plows. The training prepares winter operators to safely and effectively remove more snow off roadways while getting used to the additional 2.5 -7.5 feet that a wing plow sticks past the truck, at the PennDot Latrobe Stockpile 23, on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. District 12 covers more than 3000 miles of road thanks the the 200 truck fleet.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Operator instructor Pat Kadilack (left), give driver Jim Brumley advice, as PennDOT District 12 drivers go through training for snow plow operators in the use of wing plows. The training prepares winter operators to safely and effectively remove more snow off roadways while getting used to the additional 2.5 -7.5 feet that a wing plow sticks past the truck, at the PennDot Latrobe Stockpile 23, on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. District 12 covers more than 3000 miles of road thanks the the 200 truck fleet.

Updated 22 hours ago

Remember the relatively balmy 2016-17 winter? The coming months won't be a repeat, according to meteorologists.

This winter is expected to be typical for Western Pennsylvania — meaning many days of low temperatures, snow and rain.

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said the Pittsburgh region likely will have a cold snap this week, and temperatures likely won't rise much until the end of the season.

“Not an unusually cold winter, but certainly colder than what we saw last year,” he said.

AccuWeather's long-term forecast predicts a slightly-colder-than-average winter. The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center's forecast differs, predicting temperatures slightly above normal, though still not as warm as last year.

“It will be cold; it's wintertime. But just expect overall averages to be slightly above normal,” weather service meteorologist Rihaan Gangat said.

Normal for the Pittsburgh region means 30.6 degrees, according to the National Weather Service's 30-year average. Last winter's average temperature was about 6 degrees higher.

AccuWeather and the National Weather Service agree: We're in for a wet winter. Forecasts call for higher-than-average precipitation, meaning more rain, snow and sleet.

The Pittsburgh region has received 2.1 inches of snow so far this season, according to the National Weather Service. Last winter's total of 32 inches was well below the 30-year average of 41.4.

Long-term forecasts aren't as accurate or precise as short-term predictions, but meteorologists can look at global weather patterns and use them to make a good prediction for the months ahead, Gangat said.

“Those overall patterns, even all the way from the Pacific, can affect our region,” he said.

This winter, a La Niña pattern cooling the water in the Pacific Ocean is expected to bring cold air and precipitation to Western Pennsylvania and much of the rest of the country, according to Accuweather.

For those concerned with road conditions, Gov. Tom Wolf debuted a new online tool this year that will allow residents to track the progress of PennDOT plow trucks.

The new map at 511PA.com will monitor about 40,000 miles of state-maintained roads and show when they were last plowed, using Automated Vehicle Location technology installed on the department's 2,200 plow trucks.

The state also is looking to hire hundreds of workers with commercial driver's licenses to drive plow trucks part time during the winter.

Information is available at employment.pa.gov .

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, jtierney@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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