Early snowfall a rare Halloween trick in Western Pennsylvania
By Craig Smith
Published: Sunday, October 30, 2011
Halloween checklist: Candy, scary mask, snow shovel?
For the first time in more than a decade, residents in portions of Pennsylvania had to dig out Saturday from measurable amounts of pre-Halloween snowfall.
The heaviest snow fell in the eastern part of the state. But the Pittsburgh area received 1.6 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service, while 2 to 6 inches fell in Westmoreland County. Fayette County saw 5 to 8 inches.
"I don't remember any Halloween with snow," said Matthew Loghran, 13, of Mt. Lebanon, who participated in Mt. Lebanon's Halloween parade yesterday morning.
The white stuff isn't expected to linger. National Weather Service meteorologist John Darnley said today's forecast calls for temperatures in the 50s.
"Good football weather," he said.
Heavy, wet snow knocked out power yesterday to about 14,000 West Penn Power customers in Westmoreland and Fayette counties and the higher elevations of the Laurel Highlands, said spokesman Doug Colafella.
Murrysville police reported parts of the borough lost power around 9 a.m. Greensburg police said the city's "northern end" was without power.
No power outages were reported by Duquesne Light, said spokesman Joe Vallarian.
The snowfall caused thousands of power outages in eastern Pennsylvania as trees weighed down by heavy, wet snow toppled onto power lines.
PPL spokeswoman Lissette Santana said 170,000 customers were without power as of 3:30 p.m., most in the Lehigh Valley, suburban Philadelphia's Bucks County, and the Harrisburg and Lancaster areas in central Pennsylvania. FirstEnergy spokesman Scott Surgeoner reports about 95,000 customers without power, most in Berks and York counties.
Amtrak said it suspended Keystone Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg due to downed trees as well as signal and overhead power problems.
Sean Brown, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, said crews had salted the roads prior to the storm and plows were out trying to clear the accumulating snow. He said a few roads had closed due to a crash and downed trees and lines, and travelers should slow down and use caution.
While October snows are rare in Western Pennsylvania, there have been a few white Halloweens. A major storm dumped 8.5 inches of snow here in 1993, the National Weather Service said.
Luke Loboda, of Mt. Lebanon said the weather was not interfering with yesterday's Halloween parade along Mt. Lebanon's Washington Avenue.
"There are plenty of people here. Even though it's snowing, the kids like to come out. My son is 3 and likes to see fire trucks, so I pretty much had to come to the parade," Loboda said.
Across the Northeast, snowfall totals in Saturday's storm were expected to reach 10 inches or more in some areas, the weather service said.
Those amounts are unusual for this time of year, said Martin Baxter, assistant professor of meteorology at Central Michigan University,
"The accumulation of greater than six inches this early is unprecedented," he said.
In Western Pennsylvania, many roadways were clearing by noon, officials said.
Westmoreland County Emergency Management spokesman Dan Stevens said no major accidents were reported.
"That's surprising for the first snowfall of the year," he said.
Linda Nelson, removed slush from in front of her Nu-Way laundry in Greensburg.
"It's too early. I'm not ready for snow," she said.
It's so early, she said, that she had trouble finding her snow shovel.