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W.Pa. temperatures expected to fall; snow to replace rain

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:10 a.m.

Unseasonable warmth spent a little time in Western Pennsylvania on Wednesday before a line of storms heralded a return to wintry weather.

The high reached 68 degrees, eclipsing the Pittsburgh region's record for Jan. 30 set in 1916 and tied in 1947, according to the National Weather Service in Moon. In a final burst of springlike intensity, a line of storms passed through with wind gusts of up to 67 mph.

The heaviest was at 10:45 a.m. at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Westmoreland County, where wind toppled a parked state police helicopter.

“We (had) a squall line just before the approaching storm,” meteorologist Lee Hendricks said.

That line ripped across Western Pennsylvania shortly after 10 a.m., snapping tree limbs and bringing down wires in Allegheny, Fayette and Washington counties, according to 911 dispatchers. Authorities reported no injuries.

Duquesne Light reported no significant outages, although West Penn Power initially reported about 3,200 customers without electricity in Washington County, 1,800 in Allegheny County and 3,300 in Westmoreland County. By 2:30 p.m., those numbers had dropped to about 600 in Washington, 800 in Westmoreland and 200 in Allegheny.

PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi said a tree fell at the edge of the Parkway West near the former Parkway Center Mall about 10:15 a.m., coming to rest on the guardrail and scattering debris into the inbound right lane. Crews cleared the debris and reopened the lane within minutes.

Scattered showers were expected to turn to snow overnight as temperatures dropped toward an expected low of 29 degrees on Thursday morning. Between ¾ and 1½ inches of precipitation was expected before Thursday morning, including about a half-inch of snow.

A flood advisory remained in effect for the Monongahela, Ohio and Allegheny rivers around the Point, Downtown.

“If you don't like the weather in Pittsburgh, just wait around 15 minutes,” Hendricks said.

Matthew Santoni and Jason Cato are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Santoni can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com. Cato can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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