Local crews ready for wintry mix
By Patrick Cloonan and Michael Divittorio
Published: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 1:36 a.m.
Road crews started early in some communities to take on an icy storm that started in Friday afternoon drivetime.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory through midnight. It predicted 4-6 inches of snow.
Meteorologists at Trib Total Media news exchange partner WPXI-11 said 3-5 inches were expected before the snow tapered off overnight.
Glassport Councilman and public works chairman Terry DiMarco said he called crews to get ready around 1:30 p.m.
“They loaded all the trucks and got the plows ready,” DiMarco said. “As soon as it started snowing, they were out.”
Problems persisted past sunset. On Facebook, Munhall Crime Watch posted pictures of the borough's Friday night light-up ceremony and an advisory that “road crews have been called and salt trucks are running.”
Reports received by Allegheny County dispatchers ranged from a vehicle on its roof along Bunola River and Elkhorn roads in Forward Township to the six cars and a Port Authority bus reported to be stuck on Worthington Avenue in Clairton.
Some roads were closed for a time because of deteriorating conditions. County dispatchers said that included the 1400 block of N. State Street in Clairton where another vehicle rolled over.
A vehicle reportedly struck a wall along the 400 block of Gill Hall Road in Jefferson Hills, where police were called moments later to a crash along Route 51 and Lewis Run Road.
North Versailles Township public works acting foreman Jim Bivins said there were no road closures in the township, but some motorists were stranded for a short while.
In Glassport, however, DiMarco said, “The streets are wet and running. There's no ice or snow. They're all clear. (Crews) will stay out all night if they have to. They were ready for (the storm).”
McKeesport public works director Steve Kondrosky said crews were out tending to city roads starting at 6:30 p.m.
Crews were shorthanded because of vacations and hunting season but, Kondrosky said, “They're just plugging right along. All the main drag areas and hospital routes and bus routes, we always address those first.”
Kondrosky said crews were aware of the Serra Catholic basketball game and maintained the area around the school in Haler Heights.
Bivins said six crews were out plowing and salting North Versailles roads by 8 p.m.
“The snow's not real bad,” Bivins said. “The snow's not the real issue, it's the ice underneath.”
Bivins said it takes about three hours to do one run of the whole township. He expected roads to be drivable once salt got under the snow.
Lincoln volunteer firefighters responded to reports of a house blaze along Liberty Way but found the fire out prior to their arrival around 8:30 p.m.
In McKeesport, Kondrosky encouraged residents and motorists to have patience, especially those on side streets and neighborhoods.
“We'll get there,” the public works director said. “It's just a matter of when. It's not like we're going to neglect anything. We'll get all the main streets and, if time permits, we'll catch up with it. We'll get the other areas. It all depends on the weather itself.”
No power outages were reported locally at presstime, though West Penn Power did have one report late Friday in Bethel Park.
Accuweather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said areas of the Northeast largely missed by Friday's snow and ice may get travel delays and power outages from Sunday into Monday.
Accuweather said coastal areas will be on the eastern end of a low pressure system that may bring snow to the upper Great Lakes, an icy mix from the Ohio Valley through the Mon-Yough area to Cape Cod, and rain farther south.
Flooding is possible as well. The National Weather Service issued an advisory through Sunday evening for the Ohio River at Pittsburgh.
Flood stage is 25 feet and a crest of 19.9 feet is predicted on Saturday night, but that will put water on lower areas of the North Shore. The rising rivers forced the shutdown of the Mon Wharf parking area in downtown Pittsburgh beginning on Friday.
Patrick Cloonan and Michael DiVittorio are staff writers for Trib Total Media. They can be reached at 412-664-9161, Cloonan at ext. 1967 or firstname.lastname@example.org, DiVittorio at ext. 1965 or email@example.com.
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