Skies to quiet after 'thundersnow' rattles Western Pa.

| Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, 7:42 a.m.

An overnight snowstorm turned into “thundersnow” Tuesday morning, shutting down a major thoroughfare for a short time and causing accidents across Western Pennsylvania.

But the rain, sleet and snow was to end in Allegheny County by 10 a.m., National Weather Service meteorologist Fred McMullen said. Temperatures should climb to 37 to 39 degrees throughout the day.

Most of the region saw 1 to 3 inches of snow overnight through the morning, he said. Portions of Jefferson County reported 8 inches while areas of Lawrence County got 6 inches.

Areas north of Allegheny County also experienced thundersnow and a few lightning strikes.

No more precipitation is expected until just before dawn Wednesday when more snow is expected that will quickly turn to rain, McMullen said.

The storm quickly ramped up during the morning commute, drastically reducing visibility and creating hazardous road conditions.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said state police temporarily closed Route 28 southbound at the Creighton exit because of icing until salt trucks could get there. It has since reopened.

Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie said bus riders should expect 10- to 15-minute delays on average Tuesday morning because of the storm. Ritchie said there were no significant delays on the T or on the incline. Reports of buses having difficulty getting up hills throughout the county were widespread.

“Like everyone else, we're low on road salt and we're prioritizing where we are using it. We were unable to salt the park-and-ride lots,” Ritchie said.

Those lots are plowed, he said.

There was an accident involving a Port Authority bus at Fifth and Maryland avenues. A car pulling out of its driveway slid into the side of a bus. One passenger reported a minor injury, Ritchie said.

“We've had multiple cases of buses sliding on roads,” Ritchie said.

State police said they closed a ramp of the Fort Duquesne Bridge inbound heading toward the Strip District because of an accident. One lane of the Pennsylvania Turnpike west of Cranberry also was closed because of an accident, state police said. The lane was closed on the westbound portion of the road.

Pittsburgh Public Schools, Butler Area School District and North Allegheny School District, among others, announced closures after initially operating on two-hour delays. For a complete list of closures, visit Trib news partner WPXI.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike reduced speed limits to 45 mph along the entire turnpike system because of heavy snow and icy conditions. Those limits ended at about 10:15 a.m.

The HOV lanes along the Parkway North are closed for the morning.

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