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Winter blast wreaks havoc

| Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, 12:16 a.m.
Bill Shirley | Daily Courier
Cody Nudo (left), 11, and Wayne Eutsey, 12, both of Connellsville, are out looking for snow removal customers near the Arch Cafe on Pittsburgh Street, Thursday morning, February 13, 2014. Area schools were closed due to the overnight snowfall.
Bill Shirley | Daily Courier
Traffic begins to slow under the snow and slushy conditions at the Scottdale-Mt. Pleasant exit off Route 119 on Thursday morning, February 13, 2014.

Although just one or two inches of snow was predicted in the Fay-West region overnight, residents awoke Thursday to more and climbing.

Area schools were closed again. Fire departments and first responders were kept busy most of the day and into the evening.

“It is really slippery out there,” Mt. Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department Chief Gerald Lucia said of Thursday's conditions. “I think that, of all the storms that we have had, this one may be the worst. It's bad out, and with everyone's low salt supply, it's rough.”

Lucia said the the department was called out to assist at a morning accident on Three Mile Hill, located east of Mt. Pleasant along Route 31.

“We had an overturned SUV with entrapment,” Bullksin Township Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Kyle Quinn said. “We also had a chimney fire call the same time as the accident.”

Quinn said that a second accident on Route 119 needed their assistance, but the weather is keeping motorists to a crawl.

“With this weather, it is taking us so much longer to get to where we need to be,” Quinn said. “This weather is just something that we have to learn to deal with.”

In Connellsville, street department manager Vern Ohler said his new emergency route plan was put into effect and seems to have worked for this last storm.

“It's something that I have had in the back of my head for some time,” Ohler said of his plan to hit major routes in the city, along with a few other roads and keep them cleared. “With the routes we have been doing, everyone in the city will only have two blocks or so to drive to get to one of the cleared roads. This takes my 37 miles of road that I have to take care of down to about five. Once the main ones are taken care of, then we can go back and start on the others.”

Ohler, who has been with the department for 32 years, said the big storms of 1995 and 2010 were bigger for snow, but this winter is one of most persistent.

“This has been one of the more persistent winters that we have had,” Ohler said. “It seems like it's already been one of the longest.”

The snow is expected to calm down to a dusting during the day Friday, but another inch or two could make its way into the region Friday night into Saturday morning.

“It's going to be cloudy and brisk,” AccuWeather meteorologist Kerry Schwinderhammer said of Friday's forecast. “There is going to be maybe a coating, a dusting, but a weak disturbance on Friday night could bring in a little snow. There is a clipper-type system heading here from the Ohio Valley. It will pass through more to our south, but it could mean one to three inches of snow for the region through the night.”

Saturday is predicted to be on the brisk side, with snow and temperatures reaching the mid-20s.

“There won't be much in the way of accumulation on Saturday,” Schwinderhammer said.

He predicted warmer temperatures next week, possibly into the 50s.

“Tuesday, the high is expected to top out at about 43, but there is snow and rain possible,” Schwinderhammer said. “Then we are going to see temperatures in the 50s for the next couple days. It's going to warm up and we are going to have a relatively mild mid week and Friday and Saturday, but the temperatures will then start to drop mid weekend and the cold air will then be coming back into the area.”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.

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