Weather service ups snowfall forecast for Pittsburgh

The National Weather Service revised its snow forecast for Pittsburgh this afternoon, calling for 1 to 2 inches. Its earlier forecast was for less than an inch.

The city is on the fringe of a major winter storm that has dumped several inches of snow in areas to the east and south.

PennDOT said HOV lanes will remain closed through the evening rush because of snow accumulations so they can focus on keeping other roadways clear, including the regular lanes on the Parkway North.

At a late-afternoon briefing, Mr. Corbett said 5,851 Pennsylvania customers were without power at noon but that outages had fallen to 1,634 by 4 p.m.

The state saw heavy snowfall in the southeast. Philadelphia received 13 inches of snow, while parts of Chester and York counties received 15 inches, Mr. Corbett said.

“This has been a hard-hitting and fast-moving storm and left behind a lot of snow in a very short amount of time,” he said.

Additional snow is forecast tonight for a wider portion of the state, though accumulation in the west is expected to be light, he said.

PennDOT and the Turnpike continue to have approximately 2,000 trucks plowing roads, he said.

A winter weather advisory was in effect until 4 p.m. for Fayette, Greene, Westmoreland, Indiana, Cambria, Blair and Somerset counties with forecast accumulations of 2 to 4 inches. Locations to the south and east of those counties in Maryland and West Virginia were under a winter storm warning, with 6 to 12 inches expected.

A steady snow fell through the morning and early afternoon in Downtown Pittsburgh and areas to the east and south of the city, coating roads and sidewalks and contributing to several crashes, including one that jammed northbound Route 51 in Brentwood. At 11 a.m., city fire dispatch ordered all companies to put chains on their trucks.

As the snow continued after noon, emergency responders in Pittsburgh and other Allegheny County municipalities were kept busy responding to scores of minor crashes.

A 65-mile section of the westbound Pennsylvania Turnpike between Carlisle (Exit 226) and Breezewood (Exit 161) was closed this morning after a crash involving two tractor-trailers and two passenger cars at mile 175.6. No injuries were reported and the road reopened around 1 p.m.

Turnpike officials warned of possible whiteout conditions east of Somerset. The speed limit was reduced to 45 mph from New Stanton to the Delaware River Bridge (Exit 359) for a time, but the turnpike lifted the speed restriction from Carlisle to points east this afternoon. The lower limit remained in effect from New Stanton to Carlisle.

Two sections of Interstate 80 in central Pennsylvania were closed by crashes. Westbound I-80 was closed from Lamar in Clinton County (Exit 173) to Bellefonte in Centre County (Exit 161). Eastbound I-80 was closed in Clearfield County between Exits 111 and 120.

The same storm was spreading ice and snow from Georgia to Maine, with more than a foot of snow possible in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Washington, D.C., and Boston. The federal government in Washington was shut down for the day, and nonessential Pennsylvania employees in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Reading and Scranton were given the day off. The Capitol complex in Harrisburg was closed.

Pennsylvania called up National Guard members to support its response to the winter storm affecting the eastern and central parts of the state, Gov. Tom Corbett said late this morning.

The state has called up 783 National Guard members and has deployed liaison officers to Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Northampton and Philadelphia counties, the governor said. The guard is also supplying 14 four-wheel-drive ambulances in case they are needed.

Nearly 2,000 trucks from the Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania Turnpike are plowing roads in affected parts of the state, Mr. Corbett said, and the agencies have reduced speeds on the Turnpike, interstate highways and some state roads.

“We are still encouraging people who do not have to travel, as I said, to stay off,” he said.

As of mid-morning, the state had 791 customers without power, mostly in the southeast, he said.

As much as 17 inches of snow had fallen this morning in parts of western Maryland. The National Weather Service reported up to 2.5 inches in parts of Westmoreland County.

At least 12 deaths across the South have been blamed on the stormy weather. More than a half-million homes have lost electricity, the Associated Press reported. reported more than 7,000 flight cancellations as of mid-afternoon, including 122 at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Karen Langley contributed. Jon Schmitz:, 412-263-1868 and on Twitter @pgtraffic. First Published February 13, 2014 7:28 AM

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