Though this cold snap isn't quite as frigid as the one that passed through the region in early January, subzero temperatures are expected overnight and through the morning, and numerous school districts have already announced closures and delays for Wednesday.
Peaking at 23 degrees this afternoon, the temperature will continue dropping through the night to minus 4, and a windchill will make it feel as cold as minus 16.
Where would you go to escape the cold?
Pittsburghers talk about places they would go to escape this latest blast of arctic air and cold temperatures. And guess what? Some are happy right here in the polar vortex. (Video by Nate Guidry; 1/21/2014)
Wednesday will see a high of about 11 degrees, though the windchill will still make it feel like minus 5 by afternoon.
School districts throughout the region have announced closures and delays for Wednesday. Visit the KDKA-TV website for a complete list.
The end of the snow today -- accumulating between 3 and 5 inches in many local areas -- ushered in some of the coldest weather of the season, with the National Weather Service forecasting a low of minus 4 degrees overnight. A wind chill advisory was posted from 5 p.m. today to 1 p.m. Wednesday by the weather service, which expects winds of 10 to 20 mph, gusting to 30 mph and making it feel like 20-below.
Snow showers began moving across southwestern Pennsylvania around 4 a.m. today, the first volley in the next winter blast set to grip the region.
Road conditions were treacherous throughout the district, and numerous crashes were reported as roads and streets iced over around 7 a.m. Huge traffic backups developed on all three parkways and on Interstate 79 north of the Parkway North split and in Washington County. Traffic throughout the South Hills was in gridlock by 8 a.m.
Red Line service was running 20 minutes behind schedule because of traffic backups in Beechview, where police responded to several crashes. Buses were running about 35 minutes late, Port Authority spokeswoman Heather Pharo said. Some riders, however, reported delays exceeding an hour.
A winter storm warning was in effect for the ridges of Fayette and Westmoreland, along with Somerset and Bedford counties, where 6 to 8 inches was expected. Warnings also were posted for much of West Virginia, western and central Maryland, south-central Pennsylvania and northern Virginia.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike reduced the speed limit to 45 mph from Donegal (Exit 91) to all points east. PennDOT also reduced the speed limit to 45 mph on numerous interstate highways and U.S. routes in central and eastern Pennsylvania.
The storm was disrupting air travel across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, with more than 3,400 flights canceled and more than 3,700 delayed, according to FlightStats.com. At Pittsburgh International, it reported 30 cancellations and 35 delays as of 9 p.m.
More than 1,000 flights on Wednesday have already been canceled, with 13 of those at Pittsburgh International.
Mayor William Peduto said Pittsburgh has activated an emergency response protocol. Public Works crews are working around the clock and began pre-salting roads last night. Crews from the Parks Department will assist Public Works as needed. Mr. Peduto said 58 trucks were on the road, with a goal of clearing primary and secondary roads by 4 p.m.
All city facilities were open today, including senior centers, which will function as warming centers throughout the day. Five warming center locations will be open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. today and Wednesday. These locations are:
Greenfield Healthy Acting Living Center, 745 Greenfield Ave. (412-422-6551)
Homewood Healthy Active Living Center, 7321Frankstown Ave. (412-244-4190)
North Side, Allegheny Center Healthy Active Living Center, Allegheny Square (412-323-7239)
Sheraden Healthy Active Living Center, 720 Sherwood Ave. (412-777-5012)
South Side Healthy Active Living Center, 12th and Bingham streets (412-488-8404)
The homeless shelter at United Church of Christ, 620 Smithfield St., Downtown, will be open today and Wednesday. Police have been instructed to assist the homeless with transportation to shelters, and residents are advised to keep their pets indoors this week.
Additional medic units have been activated in anticipation of a slippery and potentially unsafe morning commute, Mr. Peduto said.
First Published January 21, 2014 5:29 AM