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Winter's toll: Be careful out there

| Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, 8:57 p.m.

Weather isn't usually a topic you find on an editorial page. But this winter has not been business as usual in Western Pennsylvania.

Pipes are freezing. Cars aren't starting. The Allegheny River has ice more than 8 inches thick. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn't heard the words, “This is the worst winter I can remember in a long time,” uttered in churches, coffee shops — wherever there are people out of their homes braving the cold.

The Arctic cold snaps that have hit the region this year are likely behind us. That's good news, but the truth is our problems lie ahead.

Frozen pipes and cars are problems of the moment. You solve them and they are gone. The river ice that is more than twice as thick as in a normal winter is a problem waiting to happen. Things will get worse as the weather gets better.

We saw in January in East Brady, Armstrong County, the damage that thick ice combined with warm weather can bring. Floods. Property damage. Issues of safety for residents living along the river. The spring thaw is going to bring more of the same.

A National Weather Service meteorologist in a recent story about the river ice problem suggested that people along the river prepare for the worst, keep an eye for rising water, and get out before their safety is threatened. Property will never be more important than lives.

That's good advice. Winter is leaving and spring will be a challenge. Take steps now to ensure you are around to enjoy the summer.

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