Roads messy after season's first big winter blast; Warning still active

Updated:

Loading

PITTSBURGH - A winter storm on the day after Christmas brought a dangerous mix of precipitation to western Pennsylvania that included significant snowfall, especially north of Pittsburgh.

A Winter Storm Warning for the vast majority of the Channel 11 News viewing area remains in effect. It, along with a separate Winter Weather Advisory, is scheduled to stay active until Thursday morning.

Severe Weather Team 11 Chief Meteorologist Stephen Cropper said that snow, sleet, rain and freezing rain moved into the area Wednesday morning. The precipitation was completely snow along and north of Interstate 80, where more than 7 inches of accumulation was predicted.

As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Cropper said that snow totals ranged from 1-2 inches south and west of Pittsburgh to 7 inches in Venango County. Snow totals across Greater Pittsburgh were generally 4-6 inches.

Early evening brought a brief lull in the action. More snow showers, however, arrived Wednesday night. Cropper said that additional accumulation will range from 1-3 inches for a total of 5-7 inches in and around the city.

It will be windy on Thursday with snow showers. Wind chills will top out in the low-20s. New snow hitting the ground is not expected to exceed an inch.

TRICKY TRAVEL
Travel was dangerous at times on Wednesday. The worst driving conditions were in areas that saw the most freezing rain. Colder air wrapped into the storm Wednesday night, changing precipitation over to snow showers for the entire region late Wednesday into Thursday.

Severe Weather Team 11 Meteorologist Mike LaPoint said that the storm was very complicated because as little as 20 miles made a big difference in the type of precipitation and snow totals. Be sure to check the WPXI.com Weather page often for the most up-to-date forecast.

Emergency responders reported numerous crashes on local roadways. Things were so bad in Greene County that officials issued a Level 1 Snow Emergency due to covered roads.

No one was hurt when a vehicle slid and rolled over just after 10 a.m. Wednesday at Steuben Street and Chartiers Avenue in the West End, according to Pittsburgh Police, who added that a city salt truck hit a utility pole in Greenfield shortly thereafter.

The Parkway East inbound was shut down near the Churchill exit at approximately 11 a.m. and traffic was at a standstill.

There was also an accident reported along the Pennsylvania Turnpike eastbound between Donegal and Somerset. Traffic there was heavily delayed.

As of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, the speed limit on the Turnpike from the Ohio line to the Blue Mountain/Kittatinny tunnels was reduced to 45 mph due to the heavy snowfalls resulting from the winter storm. Motorists were instructed that, unless it was absolutely necessary, they should avoid the Turnpike from milepost 0 to 200. Drivers were also reminded to heed the lower speed limits and turn on their headlights.

According to State Police, Route 28 northbound traffic was closed to all vehicles from Harmarville to Tarentum.

Port Authority bus service was running at least 30 minutes behind schedule throughout Allegheny County on Wednesday afternoon due to poor weather and road conditions. Riders were told to plan accordingly and anticipate significant delays.

Channel 11's Courtney Brennan reported that heavy, wet snow fell all morning and afternoon in the city of Greensburg. Drivers there tried to make their way through the slushy roads. It was a near white-out around lunchtime with low visibility.

Brennan also reported that several trucks got stuck trying to make their way up Three Mile Hill near Donegal. The icy Westmoreland County road is always treacherous during a snowstorm. The wind made everything worse, blowing snow around and causing almost zero visibility. At least one driver had to abandon his car along the roadway.

Air travel was also impacted. Channel 11's Jodine Costanzo reported that hundreds of people were stranded at Pittsburgh International Airport. Storms around the country caused flight cancellations. She advised travelers to check with their carrier before heading to the facility.

BUSINESSES CLOSE
Even though most schools were not in session because of the holiday break, there were still dozens of entries listed on the WPXI.com Closings page, some of were applicable for Thursday as well.

The Bethel Park Public Library closed at noon. Meanwhile, that municipality's community center followed suit an hour later. Elsewhere, the Five Rivers MetroParks closed as well.

SNOWY SCENES
Channel 11 News viewers shared numerous winter storm photos at WPXI.com. Click here to check them out and/or to share your own pictures.