Get ready: More snow on the way

Saturday snow showers expected to dump another inch on city still digging out from Wednesday's storm

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A second snowstorm on the tail of a blast that crews are still working to clear is expected to hit early Saturday, but forecasters say it will be minimal compared to the 5.1 inches dropped on the city since Wednesday.

Bob Coblentz, of the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, said the region will be dusted again early Saturday and wind and snow showers will hit later that evening. Accumulations are predicted to reach around an inch locally and more will stick in counties north and east of Allegheny.

"The cold air is in place so anything that falls is going to be snow," he said.

Light freezing rain and snow flurries amounted to a fifth of an inch Thursday. Clouds and dry skies were predicted today.

City crews charged with clearing roadways of the snow and ice that fell since Wednesday continued to work 12-hour shifts Thursday.

Pittsburgh public works director Rob Kaczorowski said crews were salting and plowing tertiary roads -- the alleys and streets that receive little regular traffic -- and going back over secondary roads to clear "hardpack" created by the mingling snow, slush and ice. All primary roads were open.

PennDOT reported that 65 agency-owned trucks and 15 rentals scraped and salted the interstates, which were cleared overnight and remained drivable Thursday.

In advance of Saturday's storm, a brine solution consisting mostly of water and salt will likely be used on the Parkways East and West, Interstate 70, the Parkway North and Route 28, said spokesman Steve Cowan. He said the agency has an ample reserve of salt and brine due to a mild winter last year.

The 60 trucks deployed by the county public works department in 12-hour shifts to clear roads Wednesday resumed regular hours Thursday, said spokeswoman Amie Downs, who lauded the department's efforts.

She said the department will gear up again Saturday and possibly take pre-emptive measures depending on the amount of snow expected as the storm draws nearer.

Port Authority restored regular service Thursday morning along the 81 Oak Hill and 83 Webster Hill District routes that were altered Wednesday after three buses were stuck on impassable roads.

"Everything I've heard indicates that today is relatively normal in terms of operations," said Heather Pharo, a Port Authority spokeswoman.

Speed restrictions of 45 mph on the Pennsylvania Turnpike also were lifted Thursday morning with the exception of the Northeastern Extension. Drivers were still urged to use caution.

By mid-day FlightStats.com reported that 13 flights arriving or departing from Pittsburgh International Airport had been cancelled compared to 90 flights the day before.

The airport experienced a slight mishap Wednesday night when an American Airlines jetliner that had just landed and was on its way to a gate took a wide turn and drifted off a path cleared through the snow for planes. The plane's landing gear became stuck in a patch of snow shoveled to the side of the ramp and passengers waited about two hours to be transported to the terminal by bus.

"Because of the volume and the speed of the storm yesterday, you're not going to be able to clear off 100 percent of ramp area," said airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny.

Ms. Jenny did not anticipate having any problems with arriving or departing flights Saturday.



weather - region - Transportation

Taryn Luna: 412-263-1985 or tluna@post-gazette.com. Joe Smydo contributed.


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