not in time to bring a white Christmas, a storm brought the area's first big snowfall on Wednesday, a reminder that winter in these parts still has some bite. While 5 inches were recorded in West View and 4 inches in Mount Washington, people living farther out received a bigger dump of snow-- 8.5 inches in Indiana, Pa., and 7 inches near Punxsutawney. As usual, the winter woes included crashes, stalled traffic and disabled vehicles. As the storm wore on, nonessential employees made an early rush out of town. It wasn't a Snowmageddon, the big blizzard that paralyzed the city in 2010 when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was in Seven Springs celebrating his birthday, but city residents with memories of that debacle were judging the city's snow removal effort in light of it -- and some were harsh in their criticism. With a mayoral election next year, that wasn't warming news for Mr. Ravenstahl -- and more snow will undoubtedly fall in the weeks ahead.
AFTER THE JOY of Christmas, the New Year brings back old misery -- specifically, the $49.5 million Squirrel Hill Tunnel construction. Motorists were given a break over the holidays from lane restrictions and weekend detours, but that ends in both directions Jan. 2, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. More full weekend closures are certain to occur, first on the inbound side and then on the outbound. The work on the Squirrel Hill Tunnel, which includes raising the ceiling clearance, is scheduled to continue into the summer of 2014. The work is said to be progressing well, but the light at the end of the tunnel is still a good while away.
PITTSBURGH'S CLAIM to be the City of Champions is something you don't hear anymore and, sadly, we know why. If the Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field today, their record will be only 8-8, their worst showing since 2006. If they lose to the Browns they will have their first losing season since 2003. Over at PNC Park, the Pirates completed a trade with the Boston Red Sox. The Pirates sent Joel Hanrahan and infielder Brock Holt to the Red Sox in exchange for right-handed pitchers Mark Melancon and Stolmy Pimentel, first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands and infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. Some Bucco fans were not impressed, but in baseball hope is renewed with every new season. After 20 straight losing years for the Bucs, hope is modest -- these trades don't have to make the Pirates champions, just bring a winning season.