Allegheny County dodges snow bullet

'A few degrees' change in temperature saved us from the big snow'

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So what are we going to do with all this milk, bread and toilet paper?

While an anticipated major snowstorm Tuesday into Wednesday sent people scurrying to grocery and hardware stores and caused road crews to pull an all-nighter, the storm was largely a myth in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.

It hit hard in other parts of Western Pennsylvania, dumping nearly a foot in counties north of Pittsburgh. The city got about 3.5 inches by official measurement of the National Weather Service, but you couldn't find that much unless you scraped it together with your mittens.

Much of the precipitation that was expected to pile up as snow actually fell as rain instead, and the weather service canceled a winter storm warning that was to continue into Wednesday afternoon.

An inch or more of rain fell, weather service meteorologist Joe Palko said, and had the temperature been lower, the city would have worn a 10-inch white blanket. "A few degrees' change in temperature saved us from the big snow," he said.

Dick Roberts, a spokesman for Giant Eagle, said people flocked to the stores on Monday to stock up on essentials, while on Tuesday, the shoppers seemed to be buying for Thanksgiving.

So the notion that Pittsburghers reflexively stream to the market when snow is forecast is no myth.

"It's not. They seem to shop for things like milk and bread and those essential items they might not be able to get until some time later," he said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation was fully mobilized for a haymaker, but the fact that nature swung and missed did not mean resources were squandered, district executive Dan Cessna said.

"PennDOT was prepared for the storm and deployed the manpower and resources necessary to ensure public safety," he said.

The weather service said that so far this month, Pittsburgh has received 8.5 inches of snow, which is 6.5 inches above normal. After the passing of a few stray snow showers early this morning, no precipitation is in the forecast through Tuesday, but temperatures will remain below normal for the weekend.

Operations at Pittsburgh International Airport were nearly normal on Tuesday and Wednesday, with only a handful of cancellations and delays caused by bad weather elsewhere. Nationwide, nearly 300 flights were canceled Wednesday, according to FlightAware.com, the aviation tracking website. The biggest trouble spots were Philadelphia, Newark and New York.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike issued a weather alert for the 200 miles of road from the Ohio line to Blue Mountain in the eastern part of the state but did not lower the speed limit or restrict truck traffic as it does during more severe storms.

These snowfall totals were reported as of Wednesday morning: Cherrytree, Venango County, 12 inches; New Lebanon, Mercer County, 11.5; Seneca and Green Oaks, Venango County, 11; Sandy Lake, Mercer County, 11; New Castle and New Bedford, Lawrence County, 10; Columbia and Salem, Ohio, 10; West Hickory and Marienville, Forest County, 8; Knox, Clarion County, 7; Slippery Rock and Harmony, Butler County, 6; Monaca, Beaver County, 5.

For those who panic-shopped for storm supplies, there is this cold comfort: You'll have plenty of time to use them. Winter doesn't start officially for 23 days.Pittsburgh was ready for a storm that barely materialized.


Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1868 and on Twitter @pgtraffic. First Published November 27, 2013 7:22 AM

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