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4 to 10 inches of snow predicted for Western Pennsylvania

Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, 11:54 p.m.

If the amount of snow falls on Friday in the region as predicted, public works officials say they have crews ready to roll with salt and plows.

“A Phase 1 snow alert was put into effect (on Thursday afternoon) so we can be as ready as possible if the storm hits,” said Rob Kaczorowski, director of Pittsburgh's Department of Public Works. “We're fully stocked with road salt and have a full complement of crews who will be available to work 12-hour shifts around the clock, if needed.”

The alert also calls for plows and salt spreaders to be installed on public works vehicles, he said.

Allegheny County could receive as much as 4 inches of snow, with surrounding counties and communities in higher elevations getting upward of 10 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Moon.

“We're expecting a dusting of snow overnight and then see the heavier snowfall kick in sometime Friday morning and continue through the afternoon,” meteorologist Brad Rehak said.

He said consistency in the computer models used to track the storm provided “a pretty good degree of certainty” that the region will not be spared.

The Pittsburgh area will be affected by the same storm that dumped a foot of snow on parts of the Midwest, Rehak said.

Blinding snow near Des Moines, Iowa, resulted in a 25-vehicle chain-reaction crash in which at least one person died, and the storm was blamed for traffic deaths in Nebraska, Kansas and Wisconsin.

Although blizzard conditions in the Midwest forced airlines to cancel hundreds of flights across the country, they grounded just 10 flights to and from Pittsburgh International Airport as of 6 p.m. Thursday, according to flight tracking website

All but two of the flights were en route to or headed from Chicago. About a quarter of Pittsburgh's flights ran at least 15 minutes behind schedule, according to the website.

A PennDOT official said the agency was prepared for the worst — but did not expect it.

“We're not expecting (the forecasted) 4 to 6 inches of snow, but we're prepared if it would snow that amount,” said Steve Cowan, PennDOT's District 11 safety officer.

Cowan said crews across the district, which includes Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties, are “ready for whatever type of storm this could become. We have the manpower, the trucks and the materials we need.”

Meteorologists called for 2 to 4 inches of snow in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Greene, Westmoreland and Washington counties.

Butler, Fayette and Lawrence counties could get 2 to 5 inches, and 4 to 8 inches of snow could fall in Mercer County, according to the Weather Service.

The heaviest snowfall — between 6 and 10 inches — is predicted for Venango County and in sections of Westmoreland and Fayette counties in higher elevations, according to the Weather Service.

Snow showers are likely on Saturday with additional accumulation possible in some areas.

Temperatures on Friday are expected to hover in the low-30s during the day and drop into the mid-20s in the evening. Wind gusts could reach between 35 and 40 mph in some areas, the Weather Service said.

Allegheny County's public works department installed snow plows and loaded salt into spreaders on the 30 vehicles that will be deployed if the storm hits, said Amie Downs, the county's spokeswoman.

“Public works will have a full crew on beginning at 4 a.m., and other employees will be called in during the course of the day if the snowfall progresses,” Downs said.

Penn Hills Mayor Anthony DeLuca Jr. said last year's relatively mild winter and the lack of snow that has fallen this winter put communities like his in a good position to deal with the storm.

“We've got the plows on the trucks and a good stockpile of salt,” DeLuca said. “We also haven't had to spend a lot on overtime for the snow crews, so I think we can say we're pretty well set.”

Staff writer Tom Fontaine and The Associated Pr ess contributed to this repo rt. Tony LaRussa is a s taff writer for Trib Total Media. H e can be reached at 412-3 20-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.c om.



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