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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Multiple counties in southwestern Pennsylvania are no longer under a winter storm warning.
The warm air wins out again. That pushed rain, rather than snow, into much of the area for Saturday.
There will be some snow, though. Frigid air will drain into the area late Saturday night. This means anything untreated will likely freeze.
On top of that, a quick shot of snow will pass over the area on the back side of this system. While that will not bring big accumulations, it could lead to slick conditions early Sunday.
Road crews will have to play “catch up”, as rain prevents them from pretreating the surfaces. Bottom line, late night travel could be slick, as temperatures quickly fall, so exercise caution.
Although overall snow totals will clearly be lower than initially anticipated for the southern half of our region, a changeover to snow *is* still expected late tonight as much colder air arrives on the backside of the low pressure system. pic.twitter.com/YLCjm49d3s
— NWS Pittsburgh (@NWSPittsburgh) January 20, 2019
Around 5 p.m., the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh announced that Allegheny and Westmoreland counties were among those being downgraded from a winter storm warning to a winter weather advisory.
Butler, Beaver and Armstrong counties were also downgraded to a winter weather advisory around 9:40 p.m.
The advisory is in effect from midnight until 10 a.m. Sunday.
A wintry mix is expected to change into snow with accumulation of 2 to 4 inches and a light glaze of ice accumulation in some areas. Drivers should anticipate slippery road conditions.
Washington, Greene and Fayette counties are also under a winter weather advisory.
The Pittsburgh Department of Public Works says due to the changed forecast, they will not be pretreating the roads with salt until the temperatures fall since the rain would wash salt treatments away.
Officials warn drivers to be aware of possible icy conditions Sunday morning when there could be a mix of freezing rain and snow on roadways.
“Drivers and pedestrians should not let their guard down and need to still give strong consideration to whether they need to travel in Sunday’s conditions,” DPW Director Mike Gable said in a release.
Indiana, Lawrence and Mercer counties remain under a winter storm warning until 10 a.m. Sunday. Those areas are expected to see snow accumulations of 5 to 10 inches. The National Weather Service says travel could be very difficult.
Amtrak canceled Trains 42 and 43 on its Pennsylvanian line, which were scheduled to travel between New York and Pittsburgh with stops in Philadelphia and Harrisburg. It also canceled Trains 662, 664, 672, 661, 667 and 671 on its Keystone line, which traveled between New York and Harrisburg.
Additionally, a number of airlines with flights in and out of Pittsburgh International Airport have waived change fees for the weekend.
PennDOT did grant the Pittsburgh Port Authority a waiver to operate the 28X to Pittsburgh International Airport.
— Port Authority PGH (@PGHtransit) January 19, 2019
Gov. Tom Wolf also declared a state of emergency ahead of this weekend’s winter storm.
⚠️ I’m declaring a State of Emergency as #WinterStormHarper approaches. We’ll be aggressive in managing this storm — snowfall rates could exceed 1-2 inches per hour.
Our top concern is the safety of residents. Postpone travel if you can, and be aware of changing conditions. https://t.co/Kk8P8ENeEF
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) January 18, 2019
Wolf announced on Saturday morning that the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center was activated.
“We are taking an aggressive approach to preparedness for this winter storm and having the CRCC activated ensures all hands are on deck and focused on a coordinated effort to provide help where needed as quickly as possible,” Wolf said. “First and foremost, I want all Pennsylvanians to be safe. We are doing all we can to help with that.”
The CRCC coordinates the deployment of state agency resources to counties that do not have the capability to respond as needed or have exhausted all available resources at the county level.
“Activation of the CRCC is the continuation of the planning process for this storm that started days ago,” said PEMA Acting Director Randy Padfield. “We expect this storm to be a significant one, and conditions could change rapidly. We’ll be closely working with our county and state agency partners to monitor the storm and coordinate any response as needed.”
On Saturday, Bethel Park Mayor Jack Allen declared of a snow emergency through 10 a.m. on Sunday.
“We want to stay ahead of the storm,” Allen said. “Our top priority is the safety of residents. If you do not have to travel during the storm, please avoid it. Please heed warning from our emergency responders and personnel, and remember to check on your neighbors, especially the elderly.”
The declaration prohibits everyone from parking or leaving vehicles unattended on all streets, roads and highways within Bethel Park. Also, vehicles driven within Bethel Park must be equipped with tires suitable for use in snow and ice conditions.
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