March snowstorm dumps several inches of snow throughout area



PITTSBURGH - The March snowstorm that dumped up to a foot of heavy, wet snow across western Pennsylvania overnight is already starting to melt away.

Snowfall amounts vary widely from only about an inch along the Interstate 80 corridor to as much as 15 inches in Garrett County, Md. Greater Pittsburgh ended up with approximately 4 to 6 inches of accumulation by noon Wednesday, according to Severe Weather Team meteorologist Kevin Benson.

Accumulations were heaviest in Northern Westmoreland and Allegheny counties, according to unofficial totals from the weather service. New Kensington reported 12 inches; Murrysville, 9 inches; Greensburg, 7 inches; and Ligonier, 4.

In Allegheny County, snowfall ranged from 2 inches in Braddock to nearly a foot in Natrona Heights and Holiday Park. About 6 inches fell in Baldwin and Wexford.

Freeport and Apollo in southern Armstrong County both clocked in with 10 inches, according to the weather service, and Sarver in Butler County received a foot.

Amounts were lower in Fayette, where communities saw between 2 and 6 inches, and Indiana County, with 4 to 7 inches.

Benson said skies will remain mostly cloudy into Wednesday night with a high of 26 degrees. Thursday is expected to be partly sunny with a high of 39 degrees.

Some of the hardest hit areas of the storm included counties to the south and east of Pittsburgh. Channel 11 photographers were there stationed throughout Fayette and Washington counties where snow-covered roads were reported throughout the early morning hours.

In the city, plow trucks were seen moving throughout several neighborhoods.

In Canonsburg, several people spent their mornings shoveling their driveways and sidewalks. Snow plow driver Justin Bier said he was one of the few that appreciates the heavy snowfall.

"You make more money when it snows. The more snow the better for us. Not so much for the people trying to get to work in the morning," Bier said.

In Sarver, resident Bill Babbitt said he was shocked by the amount of snow on the ground when he woke up.

"The grass was green yesterday. You could mow the grass. This is unbelievable," Babbitt said.

Channel 11’s Courtney Brennan was in Westmoreland County Wednesday where skiers and snowmobilers took full advantage of the snow.

She reported the Laurel Highlands Snowmobiler Association, which features more than 350 miles of trails, was packed.

“We had it packed up ready to go since we live so close,” snowmobiler Mike Dellerd said. “Whenever it snows we play hooky.”

Drivers who use Route 28 for their commute weren't spared aggravation. Channel 11 News was there as many drivers became trapped or slid off the roadway.

"The roads probably got 8 to 10 inches of snow. It's kind of icy. People are hitting their brakes," driver Jeff Magdinec said

Since the snow is heavy and wet, tree and powerline problems have been reported in some areas. 

Power company crews had restored most outages within hours. Only 20 West Penn Power customers in Westmoreland County were without power by afternoon. In Allegheny County, fewer than 20 outages remained by afternoon, compared to about 1,400 at 6:30 a.m., spokesman Todd Meyers said.

In many cases, a tree hitting a line caused the outage.

“It's all storm-related,” Meyers said. “Because the snow keeps falling, you clean up one problem and another comes up.”

Courthouses in Westmoreland and Fayette counties were open, but trials were put on hold.

Westmoreland jurors hearing a murder case were told to not report to court Wednesday morning. Testimony in the trial for Keith Kruel, 39, of Hempfield, will resume Thursday.

Fayette jurors also were told to not report to the courthouse because of the weather.

Some colleges and universities delayed or canceled classes, including Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Greensburg's University of Pittsburgh campus and Carlow University in Oakland. Westmoreland County Community College classes were operating as normal.

Port Authority of Allegheny County spokesman Jim Ritchie said some bus routes experienced morning delays of 15 to 20 minutes, but the T light-rail system and inclines were unaffected.

Lori Cofo, 47, of Mt. Lebanon said Wednesday morning that the snowfall was beautiful, “but that is where my affection for this storm ends,” she said. Cofo had just finished walking her dog Georgie around the neighborhood and was scraping several inches of snow off her car.

“All I have to say is never believe the groundhog,” she said of Punxsutawney Phil's prediction of early spring as Georgie, a Havanese whose nose barely cleared the snowfall, romped around the yard. “He is about the only one who likes the snow; I'm just tired of it and anxious for spring.”

Michael Merck, 34, of Edgewood took the weather in stride as he shoveled his walkway and sidewalk this morning.

“At this time of year, it's always more than you want,” he said. “But they did a good job of telling us to expect a few inches.”

Butler County emergency dispatchers and state police said the southern end of the county, from Route 422 south, saw up to 6 inches of snow overnight.

State police said many roads were still snow-covered this morning, but there were no reports of serious accidents throughout the county.

Westmoreland County Public Information Officer Dan Stevens reported “very minimal accidents,” and most of those were vehicles stuck in snow.

“For the most part, I think we were very fortunate,” he said.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said there were minor accidents overnight across Western Pennsylvania, but drivers had clear roads this morning.

Morning accidents on the Pennsylvania Turnpike had been cleared by the afternoon.

A few flights bound for Pittsburgh International Airport and eight departures from there were canceled as of 1:30 p.m., according to the flight tracking website About a dozen other flights were running behind schedule, the website said.

“Check with your airlines to see if the weather is causing any delay. Pack your patience if you are flying today,” the airport tweeted.

Flights from Arnold Palmer Regional Airport were on schedule Wednesday afternoon.

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium closed for the day because of the snow, said spokeswoman Tracy Gray. The National Aviary delayed opening its doors until noon.

Doug Kujawa, 41, of Pleasant Hills used a tractor to clear snow from his neighbor's driveways early Wednesday morning.

“It's miserable,” he said. “It's pretty heavy.”

Kujawa said he had expected even more snow overnight and was surprised by how warm the temperature was as he worked.

Additionally, there were hundreds of entires on the Closings page.

Stick with Severe Weather Team 11 and for updated forecast information, as well as the latest school and business closings.

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Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.