Pittsburgh: Frigid now, but warm-up Friday

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Pittsburghers who are weary of the seemingly never-ending winter are in for a reprieve with the return of warmer temperatures by week's end, but not before potentially record-breaking lows set in first.

Friday's high temperature is expected to reach 45 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

But weather forecasters say temperatures this morning could come close to, if not break, the record low for March 4, minus-1 degree in 1943.

That cold won't help the situation in McKeesport, where a shortage of road salt prompted Mayor Michael Cherepko to declare a state of emergency Monday. Drivers were encouraged to limit travel, and the McKeesport Area School District and the Propel McKeesport charter school announced that they would be closed today.

The Penn State Greater Allegheny campus in McKeesport closed Monday at noon and planned to reopen at noon today.

The region escaped heavy snow that blanketed much of the East Coast on Sunday and Monday.

The National Weather Service recorded 2.4 inches of snow at Pittsburgh International Airport between Sunday and Monday. The highest totals in Allegheny County were in Turtle Creek, Bethel Park and Braddock, all with 3 inches, according to NWS meteorologist Tom Green. No additional precipitation is expected through Thursday.

Areas south and east of Allegheny County were hit harder. Mount Pleasant in Westmoreland County got 6 inches, while Uniontown and Point Marion in Fayette County recorded 4.5 inches.

Farther south, in Morgantown, W.Va., there was even more snow -- 5.5 inches, forcing the closing of West Virginia University Monday.

Mr. Green said freezing rain that fell three to four hours before the snow began contributed to problems in the Morgantown area.

One community that made it safely through the weekend snow was Industry in Beaver County, where a fire Friday burned down the public works building and destroyed snow-fighting equipment, including plow trucks and the entire rock salt supply.

Council President Keith Hohenshel said the borough has ordered a new plowing truck, which should arrive in a week.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Unity donated at least 20 tons of salt to Industry, enough to last them through the rest of the winter season, he said.

"I don't know of many communities that would do that, especially with this rock salt shortage going on," he said. "If someone else is in trouble, Industry Borough is going to be the first to help them."

The borough was able to keep its roads clear during the snowfall Sunday by using that salt and trucks on loan from Brighton and Potter.

Lauren Lindstrom: llindstrom@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1964. Clarece Polke contributed.

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