Snow, freezing rain make travel treacherous in Western Pa.
A storm that delivered a nasty mix of snow, ice and freezing rain on Wednesday downed power lines, disrupted public transit and further strained the region's salt supply.
“We stocked up, so we're good for now, but if winter keeps up like this, we'd be out in two weeks,” said Mark Turcell, whose Ross-based Steel City Landscape plows commercial properties, including Station Square and The Mall at Robinson. “The government gets their salt from the suppliers first. I ordered over 1,500 tons, but right now, I can't get any.”
Weather forecasters say some relief from precipitation may be in sight, at least Thursday and Friday. Snow showers were expected Wednesday night but not again until Saturday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Rehak. Thursday's forecast is partly sunny with a high of 22 degrees.
That's good news for private plowers, who are hoping for salt shipments this week.
“Salt is getting tight, and it's getting hard to find,” said Blair Cress, owner of 20/20 Landscaping in Crafton.
State officials said nothing in their contract demands they come first.
“I think it boils down to, under the terms of the contract, (state officials) have to receive the shipment within seven days. The suppliers have to meet their contractual obligations,” said Troy Thompson, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of General Services.
“We try to balance the needs of all our customers,” said Morton Salt spokeswoman Denise Lauer. “Generally speaking, our customer orders for road salt have surged this season due to the continued cold weather and snow events across the country.”
The snow- and rain-free forecast is welcome news to the Port Authority of Allegheny County, which experienced major disruptions to the T light-rail service on Wednesday because of ice on the overhead lines.
Commuters who drive had their own problems.
“I had a hard time getting out of my parking lot this morning,” said Bobby Muto, 67, who lives in a Leetsdale high-rise. “There's a decent amount of snow, but the ice on top is the real problem. The main roads aren't bad, but some of the side roads are dangerous.”
In Southeastern Pennsylvania, PECO was working to restore power to more than 500,000 customers. Some people might not get their electricity back until the weekend, Gov. Tom Corbett said. He signed an order allowing state agencies to waive certain procedures in order to respond more quickly to the storm.
The Associated Press contributed. Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.