By John Shumway

Follow KDKA-TV: Facebook | Twitter

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A coating of ice, a coating of snow, it all depends on where you go. The much anticipated winter storm is bearing down on western Pennsylvania and there’s no way for road crews to get their usual head start to fight the wintry onslaught.

“When it comes in as rain,” says PennDOT District 11 Assistant Executive Angelo Pampena, “we can’t really pre-treat because it’s just going to wash everything off.”

KDKA’s Brenda Waters reports —

 

RELATED: Winter Storm Warning Issued, System Could Bring Significant Amount Of Snow And Ice To Region

The best the road crews can hope is the transition to freezing rain and then ice holds off until after the Friday afternoon rush hour. If not…

“It’s that same old challenge for us, we can’t get through the traffic and we need to get the material down right during the storm,” Pampena says.

Once the changeover to frozen precipitation begins, the crews hope it happens fast because snow is much easier to deal with than ice.

“We need to put chains on our trucks when it’s an ice storm because big trucks filled with salt don’t do well on ice either,” Pampena says.

And Pampena reminds drivers of four-wheel drive vehicles, four-wheel drive may get you going but does little to help stop on ice.

KDKA’s Paul Martino reports —

 

The City of Pittsburgh is “suggesting” to employers that employees be allowed to go home prior to the afternoon rush hour to help alleviate the expected crush of folks trying to get home in changing conditions.

The ice is also a critical concern to electrical crews. West Penn Power’s Todd Meyers says the forecast of a quarter of an inch of ice coating parts of the region is a major concern.

“A quarter of an inch and higher you start to see tree limbs come down and snap and cause outages,” he says. “You also could see the lines themselves becoming heavily accumulated with ice when you get to a certain degree and that can break the line.”

Outages that hit the most customers will be dealt with first but only when it’s safe for the crews to get to the problem spot.

“Getting around without tripping, slipping and falling and getting to these outages takes a lot longer when you have these conditions,” Meyers says.

Meyers says they expect to be dealing with a layer of mostly ice in Westmoreland County and points east and some ice covered by snow in the rest of the region. Crews will be moved around the region to the areas of most critical need as necessary. Duquesne Light has similar plans.