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Snow eases up across Western Pennsylvania

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By Jason Cato and Matthew Santoni
Sunday, March 2, 2014, 10:54 a.m.
 

At least all the toilet paper everyone bought when forecasters predicted 12 inches of snow won't go bad in the cupboard.

A series of weather systems expected to bring Western Pennsylvania its biggest storm of what has been a snowy season took a more southerly track across the country on Sunday. About 3 inches of snow — combined with about an inch expected overnight — helped continue a season trend of small storms that annoy the region but don't really bury it.

“It seems like it never ends, because we're just getting little spurt after little spurt after little spurt,” Thomas McHenry, 53, of the Hill District, a member of the cleaning crew at PNC Firstside Center, said as he cleared snow in front of the Downtown building. “But it's better this way. We could have gotten 30 inches all at once and shut the city down.”

According to the National Weather Service, Sunday marked the 73rd day since October with at least a trace amount of snow. This season has been the snowiest of the past five in terms of days of precipitation.

“It isn't a significant statistic,” said Bob Coblentz, a meteorologist at the weather service center in Moon. “It's the amounts that are the bigger factor.”

Community leaders who went way over budget on road salt because of multiple snow days might disagree.

So would people who can parlay even 3 inches of snow into a few bucks.

“I like it. I make money,” Zach Dobos, 17, of Dormont said of the snow as he toted a plastic shovel up West Liberty Avenue while motorists struggled along the sloppy roadway. This is his third year of going door-to-door to clear sidewalks and walkways for $5.

The persistent snow has kept North Huntingdon siblings Kelsey Gibbs, 19, and Joshua Gibbs, 17, busy volunteering their shoveling services to older neighbors in Westmoreland County.

“We just go around and help whoever we can,” Kelsey Gibbs said. “If we see an elderly person outside, we'll tell them to go inside and keep warm, and we'll finish what they started.”

The weather service canceled a winter storm warning for counties north of the turnpike when snow began to taper late in the afternoon. Meteorologist Fred McMullen expected southern Greene and Fayette counties to get 2 to 4 additional inches of snow.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission officials warned drivers not to let down their guard along the highway. The snow contributed to a few crashes during the day, including several on a stretch of Route 28 that prompted state police to close the southbound lanes near Frazer for about an hour.

Pittsburgh officials prepared for 4 to 6 inches of snow and had 45 trucks clearing roads through the evening. The city asked residents who had heavy snow on their streets on Monday to call the 311 help center after 8:30 a.m.

The snow pushed the season total above 60 inches at Pittsburgh International Airport. Though that is more than the 41.8 inches that typically falls each season, it ranks seventh to date for the all-time list of snowiest seasons. The seasonal snowfall record, set in 1950-51, stands at 82 inches.

The most snowfall on a single day this season was 5.2 inches on Jan. 25. Four days of snow from Feb. 15 to 18 dropped a combined 6.8 inches.

Coblentz of the weather service said he and his colleagues casually discussed the high number of snow days. Before looking at monthly reports, he guessed there were more than 22 days with snowfall in January.

There were 23, followed by 20 in February.

Each of those days meant Dave Scullion, a store clerk at the Exxon station on the corner of West Liberty and Pioneer avenues in Dormont, would have an additional job title.

“When it snows, I'm also the shoveler,” said Scullion, 22, of Brookline.

He couldn't venture a guess at how many times he has shoveled since October.“This is my third time out today,” he said about noon. “It's been a brutal winter, and it just keeps going. I'm definitely looking forward to spring.”

Rossilynne Skena Culgan contributed to this report. Jason Cato and Matthew Santoni are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Cato can be reached at jcato@tribweb.com. Santoni can be reached at msantoni@tribweb.com.

 

 
 


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