Warm today, but snow, cold coming to Pittsburgh region

'It's not going to stay with us very long' meteorologist Lee Hendricks said.


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This winter is Pittsburgh's annoying father-in-law, its helicopter mother, that last five pounds you can't shake off.

Yep -- it's probably going to snow again this week -- even after temperatures will hit the 60s on Tuesday and the calendar says there's just nine days till spring.

As much as 4 inches of snow, coupled with icy temperatures in the single digits Wednesday night, are possible in the Pittsburgh region, according to the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, based in Moon.

Yet there is good news.

"We're getting hit with a shot of cold air, but it's not going to stay with us very long," meteorologist Lee Hendricks said.

A low-pressure system from the southern to mid-Plains, making its way north, is predicted to move through Pittsburgh Wednesday afternoon. Precipitation could start as rain late Tuesday and change to snow Wednesday, with the highest amounts expected north of Interstate 80.

Between two and four inches of snow -- or more in isolated areas -- could fall in Armstrong, Butler and Venango counties, while areas south and southwest of Pittsburgh likely will get mostly rain. The city could see up to 2 inches of snow.

If it snows, many places will be equipped with emergency road salt supplies.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation began to ship 35,000 tons of road salt to stockpiles across the state last week, easing shortages brought on by brutal winter weather. Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said the supply will be spread throughout the state, based on need.

So far this winter, PennDOT has used 1.124 million tons of salt, about 35 percent more than the past five winters' average usage of nearly 831,000 tons.

The brief cold snap could slow down the gradual melting of ice jams in Parker, Armstrong County, and Oil City, Venango County, where the ice has been rotting in places, with some heavy pieces sinking to the bottom.

"We've had a pretty decent situation these past few days [and] warmer temperatures in the 40s which helps the melting process and stabilizing things so it doesn't get too out of hand," Mr. Hendricks said.

Water levels have dropped considerably since a mile to a mile-and-a-half ice jam formed late last month at the confluence of Oil Creek and the Allegheny River in Oil City, flooding some businesses and evacuating a senior center. Also called ice dams, the blockages occur on a frozen-over river or stream when rain and warmer temperatures cause the water level to rise, breaking thinner ice loose. That ice then piles up behind thicker ice that isn't ready to move, blocking the normal flow.

Temperatures will return to the mid-40s on Friday, and forecasters hope the gradual melting will resume.


Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944. Jon Schmitz contributed. First Published March 10, 2014 11:56 PM

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