PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Round one brought just enough snow to cause headaches for drivers all across the region. There were accidents, and at times, highways were at a standstill.
Now, local road crews are preparing for round two.
The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Advisory for much of the area from 7 a.m. Wednesday to 1 p.m. Thursday.
“At wake up [Wednesday] morning, our temperature will be in the lower teens,” said KDKA Chief Meteorologist Jeff Verszyla. “That’s not a far cry from where we started off this morning. The difference about tomorrow is, the temperatures won’t warm up throughout the day, they’ll hold steady.”
Conditions will be blustery and bitter cold Wednesday with a high of just 13 degrees and some scattered snow.
“We’ll get blustery winds combined with the temperatures to give us at and near zero at times,” said Verszyla. “And also, in addition, scattered lake-effect snow showers will develop through the afternoon.”
But Verszyla says the Wednesday morning commute should just be cold, not snowy.
“Still the possibility of a spotty flurry or two overnight tonight, but we shouldn’t have any issues with snowfall for the commute [Wednesday] morning,” said Verszyla. “What happens is, as the day wears on, the winds are going to align out of the north and west and it’s going to be a classic lake effect setup with the Arctic air pouring over the relatively warmer lake waters out of the northwest and then pushing that moisture inland.”
He says areas near and north of Interstate 80 will get the heaviest accumulation.
This morning though, the Parkway East was practically a parking lot with travel times of more than 90 minutes.
KDKA’s Christine D’Antonio Reports:
Snow-covered highways were seen early this morning, which included parts of the Parkway West, Parkway East and Interstate 79.
PennDOT crews in Allegheny County were out at midnight. All 82 of their trucks were out salting and scraping the roads.
Numerous roads were shut down such as Potomac Avenue in Banksville and a portion of South Negley Avenue in Squirrel Hill after an accident.
As soon as rush hour started, so did the accidents on the highways. As a result, PennDOT decided to lower the speed limit.
“Just to keep it safer for the motoring public. The roads were still covered even though they were treated. If you go 45 and below you usually can stay safe on those roads,” PennDOT’s Angelo Pampena said.
The slowdowns caused major backups on the Parkway East and Parkway West.
“I understand that it’s frustrating, that it takes longer to get there, but as long as you get there in one piece, we’re happy,” Pampena said.
Things tapered off throughout the morning, but crews will still be out preparing for the potential for more snow and even colder temperatures.
“Temperatures this low, we get refreezing so we have to continue to treat the roads right now. We’re going to continue to treat the roads all day today. We’ll be watching the weather and probably bring crews out at midnight again tonight to get ready for tomorrow morning’s rush hour,” Pampena said.
Just as the PennDOT trucks were out, so were Public Works crews in the City of Pittsburgh.
KDKA’s John Shumway Reports:
“What we are promising is we’re going to have trucks out salting and treating,” said Mike Gable, the director of Pittsburgh Public Works. “At 14, 13 degrees, it takes a while for that to work; you need the sun, traffic and pedestrians to help it work.”
Gable says with crews starting at 10 p.m. Monday, they were out in plenty of time to hit all the main roads before the rush hour; and once on the secondary roads, the city’s steepest streets get the priority.
But on the parkways, the damage was done early with the accident on 79 in Wexford closing the main northern route into Pittsburgh from Cranberry.
On the Parkway East, crawling would be an overstatement for the speed this morning as reports of two-hour commutes were not uncommon.
“It was backed up and it was backed up late, and we had major delays on the Parkway East,” said Pampena. “And I’m not sure why, but we’re going to take a look at it and see if there’s anything we can do to improve our services.”
And they’ll have to look quick, from a road treatment standpoint tonight’s storm is shaping up to be a repeat of this morning.
“So, we’ll be in the same scenario, but we’re going to treat all our roads with calcium chloride and that makes it more effective and we’ll be just as ready,” said Gable.
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