PennDOT has reduced the speed limits on several highways as the snow continues to fall.By Lindsay Ward

BUTLER, Pa. (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh area is in the thick of a snowstorm expected to last for 12 hours.

KDKA Meteorologist Ron Smiley is forecasting a minimum of 6 inches of snow for Allegheny County, but some places in Allegheny, Westmoreland, Butler and Indiana counties could see more than 9 inches.

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KDKA Meteorologist Ray Petelin says Pittsburgh is on track for its highest snowfall total since “Snowmageddon” in 2010.

Photo Credit: KDKA Weather Center

In Butler County, they’re expecting 6 to 8 inches of snow from the winter storm. Trucks have been out on the roads for hours preparing and will continue to stay out to clear the snow.

In Cranberry Township, KDKA captured workers pre-treating the roads Wednesday, but they actually started doing that Tuesday. All of their trucks are loaded with salt and ready to go. They have 14 routes and 22 crew members.

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Township officials say they’re also helping out their neighboring communities that have smaller crews and covering areas in the middle of the night if needed.

“Reaching probably 1/2 to an inch an hour. So our primary time is probably between 2 o’clock and 9 o’clock tonight. We will have all of our crews out at all times,” said Kelly Maurer, Cranberry Township Public Works Director.

PennDOT Butler says they will have 45 of their trucks out on the road Wednesday, with main roads being their priority. Their crew members are working 12-hour shifts.

“Go slow, give our trucks plenty of room to work and if they do that, hopefully we can all get through this storm together nice and safe,” said Bruce Hartman with PennDOT Butler.

PennDOT is urging motorists to avoid unnecessary travel, but people who do head out will see a reduced speed on some roads.

Here’s where they say the speed limit is dropping down to 45 mph:

  • Interstate 70; Interstate 79
  • State Routes 28 (in Allegheny County) and 422 (in Lawrence County)
  • Interstates 79 (in Allegheny County), 376 (Parkways East and West in Allegheny County and the Beaver Valley Expressway in Beaver and Lawrence counties), 279, and 579
  • Interstate 79 from the West Virginia state line through I80 East – Clarion exit
  • Interstate 80 from the Ohio State Line to Luzerne County Exit I-81 South – Harrisburg

PennDOT also announced temporary vehicle restrictions on Interstate 80 from the Ohio border to New Jersey. Empty tandem trailers, empty trailer trucks, motorcycles, permitted loads, RV/campers, vehicles with tow-behind trailers, tractors without trailers, school buses, commercial buses and motor coaches are not permitted on the roadway.

Speed limits are also restricted to 45 mph.

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“The purpose of the restriction is to help ensure the interstates remain open during the most challenging conditions of the winter storm. When conditions improve, PennDOT will remove the travel restrictions,” PennDOT said in a release.

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In Allegheny County, Public Works deployed 26 salt trucks with plows at 7 a.m. to monitor and pretreat the roads. Public Works sent out 10 more salt trucks at 4 p.m. so a total of three dozen trucks will be treating county roads and bridges during the evening rush hour.

They say it takes about one to two hours for salt truck drivers to finish their routes, so when the snow is coming down quickly, there might be some accumulation. They’re encouraging people to stay home if possible.

In Pittsburgh, the city’s Department of Public Works has over 70 trucks out on their daylight shift with extended crews through the afternoon shift from 2 to 10 p.m. Night crews will work from 10 p.m. into Thursday.

Port Authority says on Twitter “due to hazardous road conditions, we have pulled all of our vehicles from side streets and are only able to serve main roads for the remainder of the night.”

The Wolf administration also provided an update on the snowstorm.

“This is a complicated storm system, and the impact of it will vary greatly depending on where you are in the state,” said Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency ​Director Randy Padfield in a release. “We will work throughout the night to make sure that our county partners have what they need to keep citizens safe, and we’ll support our partner agencies like the PA Turnpike and Department of Transportation to ensure that people who need to travel will be able to do so as safely as possible.”

“We urge the public to stay home unless travel is absolutely necessary,” Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Deputy Secretary for Highway ​Administration Melissa Batula said in a release. “Fewer vehicles on the road allows our teams to focus on keeping the roads open for critical movements, not only of the vaccine, but also our emergency responders, medical professionals, and those needing these services.”

Due to the snow, transportation provided by Pittsburgh Public Schools is canceled for Thursday.

“Since all PPS students are engaged in full-time E-Learning, the cancellation of transportation only impacts non-PPS families who receive PPS pupil transportation services,” PPS said in a release.

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A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for parts of the Pittsburgh area from 7 a.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday.