PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – High winds could put the midnight fireworks for Highmark Pittsburgh First Night in jeopardy.
Gusts could reach up to 50 mph. As dawn broke Monday, workers took the wraps off of the Future of Pittsburgh ball, lit it up and made sure it is ready for its sparkling closeup tonight.
“So the ball weighs about 1,000 pounds, it’s got about 1,000 LED lights in there. The blue lights you see are in the shape of our three rivers and the confluence, so it’s a really beautiful ball and really special to Pittsburgh,” Sarah Aziz, Director of Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, said.
Rain and heavy winds are expected to batter the western Pennsylvania area starting Monday evening. The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh issued a wind advisory starting at 9 p.m.
According to the NWS, a cold front moving into the area will be driven by wind gusts. KDKA meteorologist Ron Smiley predicts wind gusts could reach up to 50 mph at times.
Watch Lynne Hayes-Freeland’s report —
Strong winds mixed with heavy rains could result in downed trees and power outages throughout the evening.
The crew tested the ball’s rise up on the roof of Penn Place and the rise will happen at 11:58 p.m. regardless of rain or high winds.
Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich gave an update on security measures in place for the big night including the mounted patrol, enhance DUI patrols and a warning to not act irresponsibly.
“The new thing this year will be the expansion of the shot spotter program throughout the city. In years past, we’ve only had it in Zone 5 and this year, it is throughout the entire city,” Hissrich said.
Hissrich says the high wind gusts mean midnight fireworks will be a last minute decision by the Bureau of Fire, Zambelli and First Night organizers.
“The projectiles with the wind, and I’m not an expert, you’re hoping that projectile is going straight up and the wind at 50 mph could, instead of sending it straight up, could potentially not allow it to go as far up as they would like,” he said.
Thousands are expected to gather in downtown Pittsburgh to celebrate at Highmark First Night.