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Worst of winter storm expected to miss Pittsburgh

| Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, 12:51 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
A frigid Shivani Gandhi of Franklin Park anticipates the start of the inaugural Girls on the Run 5k in North Park on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. The race is a culmination of a 12-week program of physical training, teamwork, empowerment and community service.

Forecasters said Western Pennsylvania would again dodge a bullet as a strong winter storm spread an icy mix from the Ohio Valley to the Northeast this weekend, although some snow and ice caused a few problems in the area on Sunday.

AccuWeather is calling for an icy mix in and around Pittsburgh through the evening hours, which contributed to a few minor car crashes between Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, according to county 911 supervisors.

Dispatchers reported multiple crashes in the Hill District on Kirkpatrick, Terrace and Darragh streets Sunday afternoon, and a tractor-trailer slid down a hill near Springhill Road and Karns Road in Harrison, bringing down a utility pole and power lines.

A five-vehicle crash at the intersection of Fifth and Shady avenues about 4:30 p.m. resulted in no injuries, but closed Shady for a time between Fifth and Mellon Park Road, dispatchers said. Some lanes on Fifth near the intersection were closed because of icy conditions. Another wreck involving a single vehicle took down a pole on Washington Boulevard near Negley Run Boulevard about 5 p.m. and temporarily closed Washington Boulevard in Highland Park

The Steelers-Dolphins game at Heinz Field got under way shortly after 1 p.m. in a steady snowfall on a lightly-coated grass surface.

State police in Kiski Valley responded to multiple crashes on Route 22 between Delmont and Blairsville. There were no reports of people trapped or serious injuries, according to state police.

Two vehicles slid off of roadways in North Huntingdon, a police dispatcher said.

At Pittsburgh International Airport, flights from Atlanta, Baltimore and New York-JFK were delayed Sunday evening, while some flights from Boston, Philadelphia, Washington Dulles and Chicago-O'Hare were cancelled because of the weather. Other flights departing for those same cities were being delayed or cancelled.

Rain, snow, sleet and freezing rain began to glaze most of the Mid-Atlantic Sunday morning, with officials urging people to stay off the roads, as North Texas and other states shook off the early remnants of the powerful storm.

Virginia, parts of West Virginia and the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area braced for a winter's smorgasbord as utility crews were at the ready. The treacherous conditions were to continue most of the day.

“We're actually getting something of everything,” said meteorologist Anita Silverman in the Blacksburg, Va., office of the National Weather Service.

In Baltimore, officials canceled the mayor's annual Christmas parade because of snowy weather as road conditions deteriorated.

In North Texas, bitter cold settled in after sleet, snow and ice pelted the region. About 400 departures from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were canceled.

On Interstate 35 north of Dallas, graders with blades to break up thick ice were brought in. The area was expected to see temperatures slightly above freezing, with a bit of sunshine, but it will likely still be a couple of days before the ice that has coated the region is gone.

Icy conditions were expected to last through the rest of the weekend from Texas to Ohio to Tennessee. And officials warned that a major ice storm was possible in Virginia's Appalachian region along the busy Interstate 81 corridor.

Snow along I-81 in northwest Virginia was making driving treacherous, with at least one vehicle reported plowing through 40 feet of guardrail. State police reported no significant crashes.

Forecasters said motorists traveling I-81 between Roanoke, Va., and Hagerstown, Md., should be on the lookout for any deterioration in conditions.

“We are encouraging people to stay off the roads,” said Tamara Rollison of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

State Emergency Management spokeswoman Laura Southard said the storm had the potential to be a “historic ice event” in Virginia.

“I've worked multiple disasters, but I've never worked an ice storm with a forecast like this,” she said. “It's just really important for everybody to take extra precautions.”

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