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Snow blankets Pittsburgh region, causes numerous accidents

| Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009

Snow blanketed the region overnight, making for a dicey commute this morning.

"They were calling for less than an inch, but we've probably got about three inches of heavy, wet snow blanketing everything," said Pittsburgh Public Works Director Robert Kaczorowski. "When you go into plowing mode, it slows everything down."

The accidents were mostly minor, but a car flipped going down Potomac Avenue near Bellingham Avenue in Banksville, city police said. The female driver was hospitalized with unknown injuries, police said.

Port Authority had asked commuters to catch buses at main roadways because of unplowed side streets.

Upwards of two inches of snow fell in Pittsburgh by this morning, said National Weather Service meteorologist Lee Hendricks. About an inch was forecast, he said.

PennDOT had crews out all night clearing snow, spokesman Jim Struzzi said.

"We got more snow than anyone predicted," Struzzi said. "We were out there, the trucks were out, but a lot of snow fell and continued to fall. As we plowed and put down material, it covered it back up very fast."

By the morning rush, Struzzi said, the interstates were wet and the secondary roads were slushy.

"We had to keep our focus on the main arteries so they could be in good condition for the morning rush, so a lot of secondaries didn't get attention until later on," he said.

Snow was expected to turn to rain by afternoon, Hendricks said. The weather service is forecasting rain and snow showers tonight, with a chance of freezing drizzle after midnight.

Public Works plans to supplement the number of crews out tonight in case the weather turns treacherous, Kaczorowski said. PennDOT also plans to have a full complement of crews working overnight, Struzzi said.

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