Snow covers Western Pa., hundreds of schools delayed or closed
The snowstorm that blanketed Western Pennsylvania with 2 to 7 inches of snow overnight spurred numerous warnings and travel restrictions into early Thursday as crews worked to clear slick and slushy roads.
Hundreds of school districts announced delays. Pittsburgh Public Schools closed its 54 schools for the day.
Due to road conditions, Pittsburgh Public Schools are CLOSED today, Thursday, February 9, 2017.— Dr. Anthony Hamlet (@PghSuptHamlet) February 9, 2017
Numerous downed trees and minor car collisions were reported, and a landslide on Route 837 in Dravosburg closed a portion of the road. The debris was cleared later in the morning and the road reopened.
As of 9 a.m., "basically the main roads are just wet at this point," said Steve Cowan, spokesman for PennDOT, which dispatched 65 plow trucks to cover 3,500 miles of roads across Allegheny County. "There are some more slushy conditions on secondary roads. Our crews will continue plowing those roads throughout the morning."
Snow began to fall about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
By 7 a.m. Thursday, areas across Allegheny County had accumulated 4 to 6 inches of snow, said Matthew Kramar, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon. Butler County averaged 2 to 4 inches of snow, and Westmoreland County recorded 4 to 7 inches, Kramar said.
"We're going to see snow showers on and off through the afternoon, but the heavy snow is done," Kramar said.
The Port Authority of Allegheny County's earliest bus lines were delayed up to about 20 minutes as buses stored outdoors had to be cleared of snow and bus drivers slowed down or had to avoid traversing steep, unsalted streets. The authority sent out a foreman to salt roads that had not yet been salted by city or municipal crews, Port Authority spokesman Adam Brandolph said.
"Obviously there were some roads that the buses couldn't get up or it was not safe to go down," Brandolph said. All lines appeared back on schedule by 9:30 a.m.
About the same time, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission lifted restrictions on speed limits and commercial trailers that had been put in place on several sections in the central and eastern parts of the state.
A winter storm warning was in effect until 7 p.m. Thursday for Fayette, Garrett, Indiana, Preston and Westmoreland counties.
Additional snowfall fcst today (on top of what has already fallen overnight) and current advisories/warnings still in effect. pic.twitter.com/9MHtEliC0A— NWS Pittsburgh (@NWSPittsburgh) February 9, 2017
"Especially in the mountains," said Kramar, "we're seeing wind gusts around 30 mph."
The Pittsburgh region can expect more scattered snow showers into Thursday afternoon, adding up to about another inch of snow accumulation, the NWS estimated.
Measurements just outside Pittsburgh International Airport have recorded 19.9 inches of snow since October — about 6 inches less than the same time last winter, Kramar said.
Temperatures will drop to the low 20s on Thursday night and into the teens early Friday, so officials advised motorists to prepare for icy conditions during Friday's commute.
"There's definitely a chance for a refreeze on any roadways that are untreated for the day and into the evening," Cowan said. "All motorists need to use caution, take a little extra time and slow down."
Sled ride while you can! Snow will melt by this weekend as temps surge back into the 50s Saturday and maybe lower 60s Sunday.— NWS Pittsburgh (@NWSPittsburgh) February 9, 2017