Snow, sleet and freezing rain caused travel difficulties early this morning across Western Pennsylvania.
The biggest problems came after a burst of heavy snow that moved into Pittsburgh shortly before 7 a.m., quickly coating roads. Interstate 79 had whiteout conditions around Wexford and points north that brought traffic to a crawl.
With the Parkway North HOV lanes closed, inbound traffic backed up for nearly the entire 13-mile length of the parkway. Snow squalls also caused near-gridlock on Route 28 from Tarentum to Etna.
Numerous crashes were reported throughout the city, including one that snarled inbound traffic on Route 65 near the McKees Rocks Bridge. There was no immediate word of any serious injuries.
With Pittsburgh low on road salt, conditions on secondary streets were treacherous, with police reporting several stuck vehicles.
The entire length of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was operating on a winter weather advisory, limiting speeds to 45 mph, until the restriction was lifted around 10 a.m.
The Pittsburgh Public Schools are among districts closed today; others are operating on a 2-hour delay. Visit the website of KDKA-TV, the PG's news partner, for a complete list.
More snow appears to have fallen to the north of Pittsburgh, with lighter amounts to the south. By shortly after 9 a.m., the National Weather Service had recorded 3.3 inches at its offices in Moon.
KDKA-TV reported several incidents of "thunder snow" -- thunder and lightning occurring during snowfall -- around 6 a.m. in New Castle and other parts of Lawrence, Beaver, Venango and Mercer counties. Later reports of thunder snow came from parts of Allegheny and Armstrong counties.
In its public information statement released at 10:25 a.m., the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh reported varying snowfall amounts: Brockway, Jefferson County, 8.5 inches; Karns City, Butler County, 6.5 inches; Mount Jackson, Lawrence County, 6.0 inches; Reynoldsville, Jefferson County, 6.0 inches; Cooperstown, Butler County, 5.2 inches; and New Kensington, Westmoreland County, 5.0 inches.
A winter weather advisory for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County was canceled after the storm moved through. Temperatures will rise to the upper 30s with some sunshine possible later, but winds could be an issue: gusts could reach 40 mph.
And how about some good news on the weather front? Temperatures across the region will rise far above freezing over the next five days. By Saturday, much of the region could experience 50 degrees.
And at 11:57 a.m. today, there will be exactly 30 days till spring.
For current conditions and the latest forecast, visit the PG's weather page.
First Published February 18, 2014 5:34 AM