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Storms conspire to bring outpouring from skies

Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Riding atop a bed of freshly downed leaves, Stephen Szarnicki of Harmar rides his bicycle in the rain along Fifth Avenue in New Kensington on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012.

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By R.A. Monti
Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, 12:31 a.m.
 

While the East Coast felt the brunt of superstorm Sandy, Southwestern Pennsylvania wasn't totally spared.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Pittsburgh International Airport had experienced a little more than 3.5 inches since the storm started to reach the area Sunday night, said Charlie Woodrum, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.

“Before the storm arrived, we only had about 0.7 inch of rain for the month,” Woodrum said Wednesday afternoon. “Now we've seen 4.26 inches, and it's still raining.”

Woodrum said the rain that the Pittsburgh region has seen over the last four days has actually been from separate storms combining to make one gigantic storm system across the area.

“A cold, upper-level trough came down from the polar region,” he said. “Then, we had Sandy bring copious amounts of moisture, and the two systems merged together to make ‘post-tropical Sandy.'”

“That's what brought us the rain,” he said. “We still have the remnants of Sandy hanging over us.”

Woodrum said that it's not normal for a tropical storm like Sandy to hover over the western part of the state for this long, but the storm it combined with is allowing it to do so.

“A polar trough can sort of sit over the area and rotate for a few days,” he said. “Since Sandy is combined with that, it's taking on that type of rotation.

“It's normal to get snow from this type of storm,” he said referring to what fell in higher elevations, most notably in West Virginia. “But, the amount of snow is unique. That's from Sandy.”

The 1.72 inches of rain Sandy brought to Pittsburgh International on Oct. 30 was a record for that date, Woodrum said.

Woodrum said the 4.26 inches of rain the area experienced for the month didn't approach the record for the most rain in an October, which was 8.2 inches in 1952.

In terms of temperature, despite the area not getting out of the 40s for the last five days of the month, Woodrum said the average was actually higher than usual.

“We had an average temperature of 54 degrees,” he said. “That's about 1.1 degrees higher than normal.

“Because we had so many warm days early on, we're still higher than normal,” he said.

Oct. 25 set a record for highest temperature on that particular date when it reached 82 degrees, which might seem like years ago to some folks.

As for the coming winter months, Woodrum said it should be business as usual for Western Pennsylvania.

“There are equal chances of having above or below normal temperature and precipitation totals,” he said.

R.A. Monti is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media. Comments regarding to story can be sent to (724) 226-4667 or vndcity@tribweb.com.

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