ShareThis Page

Western Pennsylvania prepares as big snowstorm begins

| Friday, Feb. 5, 2010

Predictions of heavy snow are certain to mean at least a couple things in Western Pennsylvania: treacherous road conditions, and a rush on bread, milk and sidewalk salt.

"For the city, it's going to be earth-shattering," Laura Romano, professional contractor manager at Home Depot in East Liberty, said this morning. "Stores are probably running out as we speak."

The region is under a winter storm warning until 6 p.m. Saturday with an expected 4 to 8 inches of snow by Saturday morning. In all, the storm could drop 8 to 12 inches on the region by Sunday, said Lee Hendricks, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon.

About an inch is expected by this afternoon's rush hour, with increased snowfall forecast to hit after 7 p.m., Hendricks said.

Bins of salt, ice melt and calcium chloride were stacked near the front door of the Home Depot on North Highland Avenue, along with snow shovels and windshield de-icer. Customer traffic was mostly contractors before 8 a.m. today, although Romano expected a crush of homeowners later in the day.

"We won't run out of salt," she said. "I've got another truck coming in."

That will add 450 bags to the 1,800 already on hand, Romano said. The store has another 1,800 bags combined of ice melt and calcium chloride.

"We're good to go here," Romano said.

The expected snowfall caused several school districts to issue early dismissals and some events to be canceled or postponed.

The Meadows Racetrack and Casino postponed auditions tomorrow for jobs as table-games dealers. Auditions will be from 3 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Holiday Inn Washington-Meadow Lands in North Strabane.

HOV lanes along the Parkway North closed after this morning's rush hour in order to allow road crews to focus winter maintenance efforts on other roadways, PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi said. The HOV lanes will reopen Monday morning.

PennDOT reminded motorists to check or call 511 from any phone to check conditions on major roadways this weekend.

State police, on the other hand, urged residents to refrain from calling their stations in the region this weekend with travel-related questions.

"We would greatly appreciate that, because our phones do get bombarded, unfortunately, during that time," said Trooper Stephen Limani, spokesman for the Greensburg barracks. "Our lines do get tied up, and it's very difficult for dispatchers to do their jobs and try to accommodate all of the people who are calling."

Pittsburgh police also expect to be busy responding to accidents and quality-of-life calls, spokeswoman Diane Richard said.

That will leave little time for police to ramp up enforcement of new no-sledding rules at Frick and Schenley parks, she said.

"Hopefully, the parents will accompany and monitor their children's safety during this type of outdoor activity," Richard said.

Some school districts across the region have begun issuing early dismissals. A list of closings can be found, the Web site of Tribune-Review news partner WTAE-TV.

The state Department of Health has canceled H1N1 vaccine clinics scheduled for Saturday.

The clinics, which were planned at Pennsylvania's 60 state health centers, will not be rescheduled.

Individuals interested in receiving the H1N1 vaccine can call 1-877-PA HEALTH or visit for more information.

The National Aviary on the North Side will be closed Saturday. The aviary will re-open at noon on Sunday. Details: 412-323-7235 or .

The Community College of Allegheny County will close at 3 p.m. today because of the predicted snowstorm.

CCAC officials said all campuses and centers, including all offices and classes, will remain closed through Saturday. Nursing students should not report for clinicals.

CCAC is expected to resume a normal schedule on Sunday. Check or the campus hot lines for updates.

Duquesne University officials said its law school continuing legal education seminar scheduled for Saturday was canceled. For information regarding rescheduling, call 412-396-6282.

Additional Information:

Flights canceled

With a major snowstorm expected to hit the mid-Atlantic, Southwest Airlines is canceling flights at three airports starting this afternoon.

Southwest spokesman Paul Flaningan said more than 100 flights will be canceled at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, a Southwest hub. The airline also is canceling flights at Dulles International and Philadelphia International.

Planes will stop taking off around 2 p.m. Friday and resume Sunday morning if the weather improves.

Flaningan says Southwest customers with reservations will be able to reschedule their trips without paying fees and without any fare hikes. Customers have 14 days to book new flights.

Pittsburgh International Airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny did not immediately return messages about possible delays or cancellations here.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me