Weather brings breath of fresh air

| Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, 9:18 p.m.

Pittsburghers swapped winter coats for shorts and snow shoveling for park walking on Sunday as they took advantage of unseasonably warm January weather.

The high of 68 degrees was two degrees shy of the region's record for the date, set in 1932, according to the National Weather Service. The warmth was short-lived, however, as temperatures were expected to dive overnight as rain brought in a cold front from the west.

Monday's forecast called for a chance of rain and snow showers before 8 a.m. with a high near 36. Highs are expected to hover in the upper 30s for the rest of the week.

Before the temperatures could drop, residents cavorted in spring-like conditions throughout the area.

“This can't be beat. I wish every January was like this,” said Lynn Lopez, 35, of Hampton, who played with daughter, Natalie, 2, at a North Park playground. “It's great to have one last day in the park.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Modzelewski said such big temperatures swings don't happen often this time of year.

“Usually, when it's this warm in front of a cold front, we see more active weather,” he said. “There is nothing to signify that. There is a sharp cold front, but no thunderstorms.”

The Pittsburgh area's average high for Jan. 13 is 35 degrees.

State College-based AccuWeather predicted a stormy pattern will set up beginning the second half of January in the Eastern states, with temperatures colder than last winter from the Mississippi Valley to the East.

The prospect of cold weather's return made Sunday sweet.

A T-shirt clad Mark Rayko, 39, of Allison Park pushed son Ian, 5, on the swings in North Park while his wife, Amy, 38, and their other son, Adam, 2, played close by.

“We're here to tire these guys out,” he said, laughing. “It was strategic.”

Rayko echoed the sentiment of several other park-goers when admitting he wasn't dreading the imminent return to winter.

“I'll take it. I like the four seasons,” he said.

Not Bob Schifano, who donned shorts and a sweatshirt for a walk around the Lynch Field track in Greensburg.

“I wish it would stay all the way into March,” said Schifano, 60, of Hempfield. “I hate winter.”

Tim Cain and his wife took their five children, ages 3 to 11, to Lynch Field to ride their bikes.

“Usually, you're cooped up and hiding inside (in January),” Tim Cain, 31, said. “It's nice to get out.”

At South Park, joggers, walkers and cyclists, most wearing shorts, packed the main artery of Corrigan Drive. A handful of skaters circling the park's ice rink wore T-shirts instead of coats and scarves.

Families picnicked at pavilions as parents chased children around the playground.

“It's nice to take a little break from being cooped up,” said Amanda Baker, 30, of Hays, who visited with children Patricia, 18 months, and Mikey, 13.

Tracy Bank, 35, of Mt. Lebanon said while she and daughter, Madeline, 6, love to play in the snow, they didn't mind that it was all melted by midday Sunday.

“This is great weather,” Bank said. “We're not complaining.”

Jim and DianaSue Eckenrode, who will move into a new East Vander-grift home this week, took their two daughters to Northmoreland Park in Allegheny Township.

“It's wonderful to see them out here where they can be out in the open and run around,” said DianaSue Eckenrode, an Ohio native visiting the Westmoreland County park for the first time. Jim Eckenrode said the weather made him eager to go fishing again.

John and Betty Lege of Vandergrift, both in their 80s, strolled along the brick walking path that circles the Northmoreland Park lake.

“It's nice that we can walk without worrying about sliding,” Betty Lege said.

Clutching a yellow dandelion she'd picked from grass free of snow, Morgan Devlin, 4, of Lower Burrell rode her bicycle with training wheels along the brick path with her brother, Logan, 5.

Their father, Jason Devlin, said they visit the park a few times per year, but not usually in the winter.

“I like this weather,” he said. “Too bad it's not going to last.”

Staff writers Liz Hayes and Jennifer Reeger contributed to this report. Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or

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