Western Pennsylvania cold spell breaks for a day — then it gets worse
The region will get a reprieve from an abnormal cold snap Wednesday with predicted highs in the mid-20s, according to the National Weather Service in Moon Township.
A wind chill advisory issued Monday, with wind chills plummeting as low as -15 in Southwestern Pennsylvania, will expire at noon Wednesday.
The frigid weather prompted more than 150 school districts in the region to issue two-hour delays Wednesday.
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Early Wednesday morning, temperatures hovered around 0 degrees in Allegheny and surrounding counties, according to Lee Hendricks, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Temperatures Wednesday afternoon will reach the mid-20s, still much lower than the normal highs in the mid-30s this time of year, he said.
But the break won't last long — another wind chill advisory will likely be issued Thursday night and could last through Saturday when wind chills could dip to minus-18 degrees, according to Hendricks.
Wednesday night, temperatures will drop down to 10 degrees with scattered snow showers into Thursday, and the winds will die down, he said.
Thursday will hold steady at 12 degrees with wind chills at minus-1.
Thursday night's low is back down to 0 degrees with wind chills ranging from minus-10 to minus-18 for southwestern Pennsylvania through much of Saturday.
Scattered snow showers are predicted for Friday with a high temperature of 8 degrees, then 0 degrees on Saturday morning.
Then "get out your shorts" for Sunday when highs reach the low 30s, Hendricks said.
A short warming trend could last into Tuesday, but after that, the long-range forecast calls, again, for well-below normal temperatures, he added.
Abnormal cold snap
Although the recent cold snap has unleashed abnormally cold temperatures and multiple days of frigid weather, it's certainly not breaking any records.
The longest period of 32-degree and below temperatures in Southwestern Pennsylvania since records have been kept for more than 135 years, was 33 days set in the winter of 1976-77.
There has been eight periods of 16 consecutive days of temperatures at or below 32 degrees; seven of those occurred after 1976, Hendricks said.
At least 12 deaths attributed to freeze throughout nation
The cold has been blamed in at least 12 deaths in the past week, according to the Associated Press.
Police in St. Louis said a 54-year-old homeless man found dead in a trash bin Monday evening apparently froze to death as the temperature dropped to minus-6 degrees.
Two other suspected cold-related deaths occurred in Wisconsin: a 27-year-old woman's body was found Monday evening on the shore of Lake Winnebago, and a 57-year-old man was found dead Sunday in a parking structure in Madison.
Bitterly cold temperatures gripped much of the nation on Tuesday, testing the mettle of even winter-wise northerners and delivering a shock to those accustomed to far milder weather in the South.
Indianapolis Public Schools canceled classes after the city tied a record low for the day — set in 1887 — of minus-12 degrees. The northwest Indiana city of Lafayette got down to minus-19, shattering the previous record set in 1979.
With Chicago-area wind chills expected as low as minus-35 degrees, forecasters warned of frost bite and hypothermia risks. They urged residents to take precautions, including dressing in layers, wearing a hat and gloves, covering exposed skin and bringing pets indoors.
Associated Press contributed.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.