March snowstorm shuts schools, briefly clogs roads
A winter storm walloped some communities on Wednesday but breezed through others, bewildering National Weather Service meteorologists.
The snow, heaviest in parts of Allegheny, Westmoreland and southern Butler, Armstrong and Indiana counties, weighed down power lines and coated tree branches but stopped by mid-morning and began to melt by afternoon, when sunshine raised the temperature to 41 degrees. A reprieve is expected, with weekend temperatures in the 50s.
“It was a very interesting event,” said meteorologist Pat Herald said. “I don't know how else to put it. The heavier totals are very localized.”
Nearly a foot of snow fell in some areas, causing schools to close for the day and giving kids time for sled-riding, snowman-building and snowball fights.
Despite scattered road closures and accidents, many commuters encountered an easy commute on roads that crews plowed and salted early.
The snow may have caused a tree to drop onto a Chevrolet Avalanche driven by James Holmes of Valencia, along Days Run Road in Frazer at 4:30 a.m. Holmes cut his hand.
“It smashed the whole cab. He could have died,” said Frazer police Chief Carl Toscolani.
Doug Kujawa, 41, of Pleasant Hills used a tractor to clear neighbors' driveways.
“It's miserable,” he said. “It's pretty heavy.”
More than 1,300 flights in Washington, Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia were scrubbed or delayed — affecting flights at Pittsburgh International Airport — and government offices in Washington closed as the storm, which dropped 9 inches of snow on Chicago, moved east. Forecasters expected it to bring a foot of snow to the Mid-Atlantic coast. A winter storm warning remained in place for parts of New England.
More than 100,000 people in Virginia and Maryland lost power. The weather service reported 24 inches on the ground in Franklin, W.Va. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency.
In Western Pennsylvania, a few thousand customers without power dwindled to a few dozen by late afternoon. In most cases, trees hitting lines caused the outages, said West Penn Power spokesman Todd Meyers.
In Allegheny County, snowfall ranged from 2 inches in Carnegie, Scott, Oakland and Braddock to nearly a foot in Holiday Park and Natrona Heights, according to unofficial totals from the weather service. About 6 inches fell in Baldwin and Wexford.
Heavy bands left a foot of snow in Sarver in Butler County and in New Kensington and Murrysville in northern Westmoreland County. Up to 5 inches fell in Beaver County and about 7 inches in Washington County.
A glitch in Plum School District's notification service caused confusion. Superintendent Timothy Glasspool said some parents received multiple messages and late messages Wednesday morning. Some messages indicated a two-hour delay; others said the district canceled classes.
“It was a small problem on their end; it caused a large problem on our end,” Glasspool said, noting the service told the district it corrected the problem.
Some colleges and universities delayed or canceled classes. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium closed for the day, and the National Aviary delayed opening. Port Authority of Allegheny County spokesman Jim Ritchie said some bus routes experienced 15-minute delays but the light-rail system and inclines were unaffected.
“All I have to say is, never believe the groundhog,” Lori Cofo, 47, of Mt. Lebanon said of Punxsutawney Phil's prediction of early spring. “He is about the only one who likes the snow. I'm just tired of it and anxious for spring.”
Michael Merck, 34, of Edgewood took the weather in stride as he shoveled his walkway.
“At this time of year, it's always more than you want,” he said. “But they did a good job of telling us to expect a few inches.”
Renatta Signorini is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Bloomberg News and staff writers Salena Zito, Brian Rittmeyer, Chuck Biedka and Karen Zapf contributed.
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.
- Pirates notebook: Melancon bails out Watson with extended outing
- McCutchen, Pirates cruise past Twins
- Fed holds steady on rates
- Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Association seeks aid to finance future upkeep
- Chiefs star Berry beats cancer, returns to field
- Folding chair collapses, child loses tips of at least 2 fingers in Arlington
- NHL notebook: Olympic hockey champion Craig to sell prized memorabilia items
- Gameday: Pirates at Reds, July 30, 2015
- Beaver County widow won’t lose home over $6.30 late fee
- Brooks brings standards to Scottdale concert series
- Softball tournament pitches in to help Kecksburg woman