Freezing rain causes school delays, many crashes across Western Pennsylvania

It looked at first like the Pittsburgh area finally was getting a break from the snow and cold.

Rain was falling overnight and the temperature was heading toward 40 -- so it came as quite the surprise this morning when residents found icy patches across Western Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has completely closed a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 80 due to icy conditions as well as a seven-mile stretch of the highway’s westbound lanes in central Pennsylvania.

PennDOT says the westbound closure between the Lock Haven and Loganton exits in Clinton County was expected to last until early afternoon. The entire highway is expected to remain closed for about the same time frame for 10 miles between the Shawville and Phillipsburg exits in Clearfield County.

State police in Clearfield County were reporting multiple crashes, some involving tractor-trailers. The westbound closure in Clinton County resulted from reports of jackknifed tractor-trailers.

There was no immediate word on injuries.

While the air temperature was higher than the freezing point of water, much of the ground was not, especially roads and sidewalks. Rain began to turn into ice upon contact with the frigid surfaces, and conditions soon became a dangerous mess.

Several sidewalks in Downtown Pittsburgh were icy just after 4 a.m. The ice accumulation also prompted many school district to operate on a delayed schedule today.

Crashes across the region were numerous.

A car went out of control on Pittsburgh's South Side, sliding on the icy until it crashed into a tree along Barry Street. Pittsburgh's East Busway was a sheet of ice before dawn, where a police car was involved in a crash at the Neville Street on ramp. A weather-related accident was reported on the Parkway East at Edgewood. There were crashes on Route 8 at Duncan Avenue and Harts Run Road, both in Hampton. Parts of Route 28 and other locations in the North and South Hills also were icy.

Another victim of the weather was today's racing card at The Meadows in Washington County. A track spokesman said a partial thaw along with ice and snow on the track forced the cancellation. Racing will resume at 12:55 p.m. Thursday.

The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh after 4 a.m. had issued a freezing rain advisory until 9 a.m. for much of Western Pennsylvania. Included in the advisory area are Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, Greene and Fayette.

The weather service called for a quick improvement, though. Partly sunny conditions are expect with highs in the mid 40s. Winds from the southwest will become more westerly this afternoon at about 10 mph.

For updated conditions and forecast, visit the Post-Gazette's weather page.

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