Predicted winter storm brings snow to Western Pennsylvania
A little bit of snow in the region caused a lot of headaches on Friday.
The 3 to 4 inches of snow that fell caused havoc on roadways, with lengthy traffic jams that lasted for hours and scores of skidding accidents reported.
“The snowfall we had is very typical for this time of year,” said meteorologist Brad Rehak of the National Weather Service in Moon. “But almost all of it fell between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday, which is about the worst time and day for that to happen.”
An additional “dusting” of snow was expected overnight, with up to 1 inch more possible north of Pittsburgh, Rehak said.
The inopportune timing of the storm resulted in a nearly nonstop stream of complaints posted for several hours on Facebook and Twitter from people irked that some streets and highways had not been salted or cleared in time for the afternoon rush hour.
One of the posters, Jennifer Davis of South Fayette, told the Tribune-Review that road crews should have had enough time to better deal with the problem.
“I can't understand when the snow occurred between two rush hours, why it couldn't be cleared?” said Davis, 39, who said a several-block drive from Allegheny General Hospital in the North Side to the West End Bridge took more than an hour.
Most of the main highways were jammed with slow-moving traffic or vehicles that were stopped because of wrecks.
The gridlock was compounded by a number of multivehicle wrecks and several vehicles that had overturned, according to authorities. A tractor-trailer that jackknifed along Route 28 in Armstrong County around 2:30 p.m. shut the roadway down for two hours.
A PennDOT salt truck was damaged when its raised bed passed under the Hite Road bridge at the Cheswick/Springdale exit of Route 28 and hit the overpass, said Steve Cowan, a PennDOT spokesman. The overpass was not damaged and the driver was not injured.
Adding to the problem of driving across the slick coating of snow that fell on already frozen road surfaces was the additional traffic created when businesses let employees out of work early during the storm.
Hundreds of schools statewide dismissed classes early, and a judge in Pittsburgh sent jurors home.
Allegheny County emergency dispatchers received numerous reports from paramedics and police patrol units that were stuck on icy roads throughout the city.
Rob Kaczorowski, who heads Pittsburgh's department of public works, said the city's full complement of 60 snow removal vehicles were deployed and would continue working through the night to make roadways passable.
“We've got most of the main routes cleared and have started going back and touching them up,” he said about 4:40 p.m. “Once we're done with that, we'll be hitting the secondary streets.”
Because the temperature averaged around 15 degrees through much of the afternoon — too low for salt to effectively melt snow and ice — the salt that was spread was treated with a calcium chloride spray that works down to minus 25 degrees, Kaczorowski said.
PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar characterized the snow as a “widespread storm, impacting the entire state” and said the transportation agency had 2,200 trucks available to fight the weather, adding that salt and anti-skid material were in good supply.
The speed limit along portions of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was reduced to 45 mph for a time and state police reported crashes.
The Port Authority of Allegheny County reported delays during the afternoon rush hour of between 60 and 90 minutes along some routes. There were no problems or delays reported for the light-rail system.
Philadelphia International Airport experienced average flight delays of nearly two hours in the evening. However, snow removal on the runways at Pittsburgh International Airport “went smoothly” and a few relatively short delays were experienced, said Jeff Martinelli, an airport spokesman.
Tony LaRussa and Bill Vidonic are staff writers for Trib Total Media. LaRussa can be reached at 412-320-7987 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Vidonic can be reached at 412-380-5621 or email@example.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Plum superintendent says lack of school tip line was ‘oversight’
- Steelers quarterback Vick getting more acquainted with offense
- Banshee trailer featuring Vandergrift released
- Police: Woman, 18, pretended to be student, assaulted Perry principal
- Downtown Pittsburgh Macy’s donates bits of history
- VND high school roundup: Freeport’s Reichenbaugh leads wins in hockey, soccer
- Starkey: Pirates gaining bad big-game rep
- Penguins see Stars, blanked by Dallas in opening game
- A field day on social media as Pirates’ Rodriguez attacks Gatorade cooler
- Guns, drugs recovered during raid in Wilkinsburg
- Kennametal HQ relocation rankles Westmoreland County business leadership