Storm blankets Armstrong County highways
The gift of a white Christmas turned into a curse when it arrived in Armstrong County a day late.
Snow began to fall in the mid-county around 10 a.m. Wednesday and within a few hours, blizzard-like conditions brought much of the area to a standstill.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning in Armstrong at 10:39 a.m. Wednesday and cautioned that travel could become hazardous or impossible. Forecasts called for up to eight inches of snow in some areas and roads in many places became impassable by early afternoon.
Andrew Firment, maintenance manager for PennDOT District 10, said the rate of snowfall was staggering.
“The morning wasn't too bad but once the weather moved into the area, it really came good,” he said.
“We were getting estimates of more than an inch of snow an hour.”
Calls for disabled vehicles, including one overturned along Cherry Run Road in Plumcreek and multiple tractor trailers along Route 28/66, began coming into 911 around 1 p.m. and state police started shutting down portions of major highways soon after.
Around 1:30 p.m., police closed Route 28/66 north of Route 85 in Rayburn and Route 422 between Kittanning and Elderton.
“Route 422 was pretty much at a standstill (Wednesday afternoon),” said Firment. “But we coordinated with state police to have them escort our trucks in amongst the people on the road to get in and clean things up.”
All the roads were reopened by later afternoon.
Firment said PennDOT crews were prepared in advance for the storm and began spraying roads with salt brine as early as 4 a.m. Wednesday.
By the hectic afternoon, all 31 of the district's trucks and plows were in service.
“We had plenty of people come in to work even with the holiday,” said Firment. “I have to give a lot of credit to our guys. Some of them had planned vacations after Christmas but they came out to help anyway.”
By late afternoon, crews were diverted from secondary roads to clear main routes like Routes 28, 28/66, 422, 85, 156 and 56. But Firment said conditions could have been far worse.
“One thing we had in our favor was the higher temperature,” he said. “We were at around 30 degrees (Wednesday) and that temperature really allows our (de-icing) materials to work.”
Although the winter weather warning was set to expire at 6 a.m. Thursday, Firment stressed the need for drivers to keep abreast of changing road conditions.
“This is the first real taste of winter we've got this year and we can't hesitate to caution people enough to be aware of severe weather,” he said. “But we'll have people working around the clock until everything is cleared.”
Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police: Escaped Armstrong County inmate armed, dangerous homicide suspect
- Worker injured when excavator backs over him in Kittanning
- Paradise Park Rib Fest reviving legendary stage in Cowansville
- 44th Folk Festival off to bustling start in Kittanning
- Armstrong reaches out for opinions about how to use closed schools
- Kittanning road work a dusty backdrop to sidewalk sales, festival
- South Buffalo airport gets Armstrong County funding for study
- Newest council member aims to make Ford City ‘best it can be’
- Manor family parting with WWII memorabilia at estate sale
- Ownerless emu finds ‘buddy’ at new Greensburg home
- Explosive second day at Camp Cadet in Manor