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Snow-related traffic accidents preview for bone-chilling cold

| Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 12:11 a.m.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Cameron Blair of Belle Vernon shovels of the sidewalk of the apartments his parents own in New Eagle on Tuesday, January 21,2014.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Monessen city street department worker Rod Freeman checks his load before going back out to salt and plow the streets in Monessen on Tuesday, January 21,2014
Submitted
Fallowfield Township firefighters responded to this accident along Interstate 70 West near mile marker 36 (Lover) around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014.

Snow that created perilous road conditions Tuesday is giving way to frigid temperatures, and scattered snow that won't accumulate too much.

The area prepared for another blast of frigid weather that will send the mercury below zero before a modest recovery by the weekend.

By the time Saturday's high hits the upper 20s, the Mid-Mon Valley will have experienced three days of highs in the upper teens and overnight lows in the single digits and occasionally below zero, said Lee Hendricks, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Moon Township.

Strong winds gusting up to 25 mph will create wind chill factors 15 to 20 degrees below zero.

“It's not going to get any warmer anytime soon,” Hendricks said.

The average high for January is 35 degrees, and the median temperature this month has been 35.8.

But there have been three days this month when the high has exceeded 50. In one week, the high hit 50 twice, bookending a week in which the low bottomed out below zero.

Hendricks said the region will experience scattered snow showers with no significant accumulation over the next several days.

“Basically, we're going to get nickeled and dimed to death — a tenth of an inch, a quarter of an inch, a half inch, just day after day, just enough to irritate you,” Hendricks said.

Before Tuesday's snow, the region had received 9.5 inches of snow in January. A normal January snowfall is 11.8 inches.

For the season, snowfall was 18.5 inches prior to Tuesday's blast. Normal snowfall by Jan. 21 is 15.9 inches.

Normal snowfall for a southwestern Pennsylvania winter is 43.4.

“February and March is when we normally get our lion's share of snow,” Hendricks said.

Harsh conditions led to several accidents in the Mid-Mon Valley.

A tractor-trailer plowed through a guard rail and came to rest on an embankment approximately 11:30 a.m. along Interstate 70 west in Fallowfield Township, just past the Lover exit.

Fallowfield Township fire Chief Anthony Fleming said the driver was not injured. He said state police closed the right lane until the truck could be towed away.

“The truck was down over the hill, so there really wasn't anything to clean up,” Fleming said. “We checked to make sure nothing was leaking, and we cleared the scene about 10 minutes after we arrived.”

It was not clear whether the accident was weather-related. State police at the Belle Vernon Barracks did not provide the identity of the driver or further information Tuesday evening.

A Monongahela man suffered minor injuries after he lost control of his minivan around 10:15 a.m. on Route 837 in Carroll Township.

Stephen DeRosa's vehicle slammed head-on into safety padding attached to an abutment at the Donora exit, before he spun out and plowed backwards into an embankment, according to Carroll Township police Chief Paul Brand.

DeRosa was taken via ambulance to Monongahela Valley Hospital in Carroll Township, where he was treated and released, spokeswoman Corinne Laboon said.

Carroll Township fire Chief Rob Greenlee said the front end of DeRosa's vehicle was destroyed.

The Carroll Township and Donora fire departments responded along with Donora and Carroll Township police and Mon Valley Emergency Medical Services.

“He was lucky ... that cushion did what it was supposed to do,” Brand said. “We had several other reports of vehicles stuck along the road and normal snow-related things.”

He said the township road crew was out working, “and by the end of the business day, all roads were passable.”

In Union Township, police said Nancy Pajan, 59, of 533 Monticello Drive, Delmont lost control of her vehicle 9:46 a.m. while attempting to turn into Trax Farms, spinning and colliding with a car driven by Sandra Lowe, 53, of 203 Pine Nut Drive, Eighty Four.

Lowe was transported to Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Jefferson Hills.

Lowe's condition was not available Tuesday evening.

Rostraver Township police reported that a Ford Focus operated by Tracy Stack, 47, of Mt. Lebanon slid out of control while traveling south on Route 51 near Vernon Drive.

The vehicle hit the median and flipped over, ejecting Stack.

She was transported to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh by Rostraver-West Newton EMS. Hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Davis said Stack was in critical condition Tuesday evening.

Rostraver police were assisted at the scene by Rostraver Central fire personnel.

State police responded to three minor accidents on the Mon/Fayette Expressway. In two of the accidents, the vehicles were driven from the scene.

A vehicle that crashed on the expressway ramp to Route 51 in Jefferson Borough was towed from the scene. No additional information was available.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com. Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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