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Frigid forecast has some districts delaying start of school Tuesday

| Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, 12:10 a.m.
Dylan Geche, Building manager of the Pittsburgh Tech Center on Fourth Avenue downtown, thows ice on the parking lot of the building, Monday, January 21, 2013. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
As if frozen in place, some cattle remain still in the frigid winter weather on a farm in Cranberry Monday, January 21, 2013. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Subzero wind chills predicted for early Tuesday led Western Pennsylvania school districts to delay opening for a few hours.

The reports began appearing on Monday afternoon as winter weather blew in, contributing to several crashes.

The National Weather Service in Moon predicted temperatures in the teens and below Tuesday, with winds of 10-20 mph. It will feel as cold as minus 10 to minus 20 degrees until Tuesday afternoon. A brief warm-up during the day will make it feel like zero to 10 degrees, but by evening, the wind chill is predicted to drop back into negative digits, said meteorologist Rihaan Gangat.

“Really cold air mixed with steady winds can result in frostbite or hypothermia if you don't take the proper precautions,” he said.

School districts announced delays so students would not have to wait for buses in the colder early-morning hours.

“When temperatures get that low, we don't want our students out waiting for the bus that early,” said Megan Edwards, spokeswoman for the Moon Area School District, which will have a two-hour delay with no breakfast program. High school students, who normally catch their buses about 6 a.m., will still take their third-period midterm exams in the afternoon, Edwards said.

Other schools — including Aliquippa, Allegheny Valley, Beaver Area, Bethel Park, Carlynton, Chartiers Valley, Central Valley, Elizabeth Forward, Ellwood City, Hopewell, Laurel, New Castle, Riverside, South Park, Trinity and Upper St. Clair ­— announced two-hour delays for Tuesday, according to WPXI.

Mary Ann Stabile of the Upper St. Clair School District said frigid temperatures caused the district to delay so students are not awaiting buses in extreme cold.

For most of the week, the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter at Smithfield United Church of Christ, Downtown, will be open to homeless people who cannot get a space in one of Allegheny County's regular shelters.

Outreach workers from Operation Safety Net were out checking “nooks and crannies” Downtown and visiting homeless camps elsewhere to inform others of the bad weather and the shelter's availability, said program manager Stephanie Chiappini.

“The folks who've been avoiding it, preferring to stay in their camps where they're comfortable, I think the super-cold weather will bring them in,” she said.

On-and-off bands of snow slicked roads on Monday afternoon, and meteorologists predicted squalls would cover the area with about 2 inches of snow by Wednesday morning. Allegheny County 911 supervisors reported there were “dozens” of weather-related crashes as one band of snow moved through, though there were no major injuries.

Regular road salt loses its effectiveness when temperatures reach the low teens, but spreading plenty of salt during the day and a little bit of moisture should keep snow or ice from building up on roads, said PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or

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