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Winter Weather Pounds Area, Creates Treacherous Road Conditions

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Stranded and frustrated – that was the story for many after a winter storm left local roadways across the area snow-covered and dangerous.

Work continues into the night to plow and salt them. From the City of Pittsburgh to areas north, east and south – it was the same everywhere.

There was a lot of shoveling going on in the City of Pittsburgh.

One driver got stuck on 18th Street on the South Side. Then, along came a Pittsburgh Water Authority crew to give them a helping hand.

“This is part of what I do – today. This is the second one,” Brian Sites, of the Water Authority, said after helping the stranded driver. “Be careful and be safe. Don’t drive like you’re driving in the summertime.”

On the same street, neighbors came out with shovels to get another driver out of a snowy situation.

Pittsburgh Public Works crews were also out and about and ready for the season’s first major winter storm.

“Actually, we were out between 6 and 7 this morning pre-treating some of our secondary roads, our brick and cobblestone and concrete streets,” said Rob Kaczorowski, the director of Pittsburgh Public Works. “It’s just unfortunate the amount of snow that came down that was tough to manage.”

And there’s plenty of salt this year because of last year’s mild winter.

“We actually had a complete, 100 percent stock probably before this event,” Kaczorowski told KDKA’s Brenda Waters. “We had one little icing event that came in, we used a little bit of salt, but our stockpile was 100 percent.”

Pittsburgh Public Works covers 12,000 miles of surface streets and when the storms rolled in, crews kept things moving.

“We’ve got about 60 pieces of equipment out throughout the city, so we’re plugging away salting and plowing,” added Kaczorowski. “We’ll be on it all night and into tomorrow until everything is done.”

Blowing in sideways – at one point snow, another sleet, then back to snow – this storm reminded many what winters around here are supposed to be.

“This is crazy. It hasn’t been this bad for a long time; didn’t have any of this last year,” said one plow driver in Butler County.

Whether on back roads or interstates, the going was slow. The best efforts of road crews were being thwarted early on by the white onslaught.

“Terrible. It’s snowing like crazy,” said Brad Crusa, of Munhall. “Everyone’s slipping, the salt doesn’t seem to be doing anything, and I got a long way to get home.”

On I-279 North, the conditions were too much. More than a few folks were doing nothing but spinning.

“We were just coming over the bridge, and lost control of the car, rammed into the side of a guardrail,” said Brian Hentosz, of Ohio Township.

Not that anyone was out walking, but KDKA’s John Shumway found Casey and Matt Haslett diligently removing three inches of snow from the sidewalk along Route 19.

“It’s my job to do all these sidewalks,” they explained.

Meanwhile, drivers in Westmoreland County were taking it slow today.

One family from Ligonier who was headed to Hidden Valley couldn’t wait to see tons of snow. The problem was driving through Wednesday winter storm to get there.

“We’ve been on the road since 10 o’clock,” Bill Douglas told KDKA’s Christine D’Antonio. “We had to go to Greensburg and stock everything up for our weekend of skiing, so it’s been horrible.”

With several inches on the roads, and many of them left untouched by plows and salt trucks, the conditions didn’t lend themselves to traveling.

“Coming out of my farm, you couldn’t even steer. It pretty much went wherever it felt like going,” said John Neiderhiser, of Ligonier.
Sandy Smythe, of the Westmoreland County Department of Public Safety, said it’s best to stay at home as crews are out in full force clearing the roads.

She says tackling a storm like Wednesday’s is challenging.

“Variation in temperature by only a couple degrees is going to change the type of precipitation you get,” said Smythe. “It might be snow for 10 minutes, and then it will be a little bit of sleet and ice, and then it will snow on top of that.”

To the south, the hills on Route 51 proved to be a daunting challenge for cars and trucks, which spun their wheels or ended up giving up completely.

“There’s a tractor trailer there stuck on the road, and cars are stuck everywhere,” said Patrick Woehler, of Baldwin.

KDKA’s Andy Sheehan reported that accidents down the length of the roadway made for stop and go traffic and length tie-ups.

“It looks like the ice started in the morning and now that the snow is just accumulating on top, it’s just you can’t keep up with it, the snow’s coming down too hard,” Woehler added.

In Uniontown, a winter mix of freezing rain and snow resulted in about a dozen accidents and fender benders. Firefighter Charles Shaffer of Fairchance shoveled his sidewalk after spending the day clearing down branches and power lines.

“It started off as rain and then turned to freezing rain. Then, it came in as snow and sleet,” said Shaffer.

It was a headache for most, but not in the eyes of a child who have been waiting for the snow to come.

“I love the snow,” said one young boy. “I can’t wait to go home and play in it.”

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