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Winter is back, and forecasters say it will stay awhile

| Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, 4:27 a.m.

Winter returned on Thursday and is expected to stay at least through early next week.

The switch from 60-degree temperatures and rain on Wednesday to snow and thermometer readings in the 20s may have seemed a bit abrupt, but AccuWeather senior meteorologist Paul Pastelok said that pattern was predicted earlier in the season.

“We thought this would be one of those winters where it wasn't stagnant, like last year,” said Pastelok, who said the forecasted three-phase winter appears to be playing out.

Warmer than usual temperatures in December followed by colder temperatures and more amplified weather systems this month are part of the first two phases.

Part three is expected to get even colder, according Pastelok.

Extreme cold last week was seen as a forerunner to the anticipated cold streak. He said that weather is believed to be tied to the sudden stratospheric warming in early January and is continuing to have an effect.

More clipper-effect snowstorms are anticipated on Sunday and Tuesday, Pastelok said.

At Allegheny County Airport, the National Weather Service measured an inch of rain between Wednesday at 9 a.m. and Thursday at 1 a.m., when the precipitation switched to snow.

Winds continued to be a problem. Gusts of up to 41 mph were clocked on Thursday morning at the West Mifflin airport.

Changing patterns have had some impact locally.

As of midday Thursday, Duquesne Light spokesman Joseph Vallarian said there was “nothing widespread” in service areas in Allegheny and Beaver counties.

West Penn Power reported handfuls of service outages, affecting 11 customers in Elizabeth Township and five apiece in Forward and North Huntingdon townships.

Glassport police Chief Howard Kifer said road crews removed a tree that fell along Washington Boulevard on Thursday, and salted roads.

Clairton police responded to a fallen tree in an alley in the rear of the 400 block of Park Avenue. There were some issues with traffic signals along Desiderio Boulevard on Wednesday.

Clairton police also responded to a call for a problem involving phone lines along Miller Avenue on Thursday.

Irwin police reported downed trees along the 700 block of Beech Street on Wednesday afternoon.

Elizabeth Township police reported water pooling along Route 48 caused by a clogged storm sewer on Wednesday.

A minor mudslide caused the partial closure of a lane on state-maintained Route 837 in Whitaker on Wednesday evening near Mifflin Street. It was cleaned up by PennDOT crews on Thursday.

The Allegheny County Parks Department closed the Boyce Park Ski Slopes in Monroeville on Thursday because of icy conditions. The slopes are expected to reopen today, but the snow tubing area will remain closed indefinitely. Information on snow conditions is available at 724-733-4665.

Staff writers Patrick Cloonan, Michael DiVittorio and Stacy Lee contributed to this report. Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or