Winter storm hits some hard, misses others
Mon-Yough communities went from dry roads to a winter wonderland between midnight and dawn on Wednesday.
“We've had reports for Allegheny County in general ranging from roughly 4 inches to almost a foot,” said meteorologist Alicia Smith at the National Weather Service in Moon Township.
In the McKeesport area, accumulations were reported in the 6-inch range. By 1 p.m. the snowfall was over and the temperature at Allegheny County Airport was up to 40.
A coastal low pressure system that prompted the snow as well as winter weather warnings overnight Tuesday until Wednesday afternoon has moved east.
“We don't really see anything striking in the near future,” AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Edwards said.
Smith said another system is expected to go north over New York state on Thursday but should leave only flurries locally.
“After that it is going to be quiet until at least Monday,” Smith said.
Some area districts canceled classes on Wednesday, while others stayed open and delayed the start of the school day by two hours.
“We knew well in advance it was coming and were well prepared,” PennDOT District 11 spokesman James Struzzi said. “For the most part the roads were in pretty good shape. There were no major incidents that I'm aware of.”
The District 11 spokesman, whose service area includes Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties, said it was “a good effort to battle the last major snowstorm of the year.”
Struzzi admitted he was being hopeful.
“The pattern we are in, it still is kind of volatile,” Edwards said. “I still wouldn't rule out that we would get another opportunity for snow before the end of the month.”
The pattern includes dips in the jet stream that will keep temperatures on a roller coaster.
“This weekend we are going to be well up into the 50s,” Edwards said.
Another system may bring rain on Monday, with a possibility of wet snow behind that.
“It looks like once this system goes through on Monday or Monday night it could turn cooler behind that,” Edwards said.
In terms of salt supplies and budgets, Struzzi said, “We're pretty much on course for an average winter in Western Pennsylvania.”
Port Authority spokeswoman Heather Pharo said there were “very minor, isolated issues” on Wednesday morning and that riders experienced delays only of 15-20 minutes.
Duquesne Light spokesman Joseph Vallarian reported “very scattered outages” early in the day on Wednesday, but “nothing widespread” across Allegheny and Butler counties.
FirstEnergy subsidiary West Penn Power reported 1,400 outages in Allegheny County at 6 a.m. but fewer than 20 after the bulk of the snow was over, including five in Union Township, just south of Jefferson Hills.
However, the potential for fallen power lines caused that utility to caution customers to “always assume they are live and dangerous.”
Beyond this area, there were outages affecting more than 23,000 FirstEnergy customers in Maryland, West Virginia and other parts of Pennsylvania and 4,100 Appalachian Power customers as far east as Ohio and West Virginia.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.