Guess what? More cold for Western Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania still digging out from last storm

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Western Pennsylvanians punch-drunk from a winter of above-average snow and below-average temperatures now face several days of subfreezing weather, but the prospect of another big storm this weekend appeared to be diminishing.

"We are still tracking the possibility of a storm," said meteorologist Alan Reppert of State College-based AccuWeather. "Over the past two days things have really backed off as far as a major storm for Pennsylvania. The pieces aren't coming together."

Brad Rehak, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon, said Wednesday evening that the service does not forecast precipitation totals days in advance but indicated there could be more snow Saturday and Sunday.

"Right now it's looking to be light, a couple of inches," he said.

The state was still digging out from a storm that dumped up to 10 inches of snow on parts of Western Pennsylvania, caused hundreds of school and activity cancellations or delays, and crippled the Port Authority's Light Rail Transit system for much of the morning rush hour.

It caused more than 750,000 customers to lose electricity, most of them in the southeastern portion of the state.

Gov. Tom Corbett said in a Wednesday night news conference that it may take a few days for power to return. In the meantime, he said, he signed a state of emergency declaration, which makes emergency funds and resources more readily available.

In the storm's wake, AccuWeather said temperatures would fall into the teens overnight and rebound to a high of 23 degrees today, then plummet to 6 degrees tonight. A cold and windy Friday was expected, with a high of 20 and a low of 8. The National Weather Service predicted a windchill of -4 on Friday.

Wednesday's storm coated everything with a layer of ice in and around Pittsburgh while dumping 6 inches or more of snow on parts of Butler County. It caused speed limits to be reduced to 45 mph on highways before things cleared up at mid-morning.

Among more than 3,000 flight cancellations in the U.S. were 30 arrivals and 42 departures at Pittsburgh International Airport, according to Hardest-hit airports were in Boston, the New York City area, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The morning rush began with the entire T system virtually frozen in place. Spokesman Jim Ritchie said despite the deployment of sleet cutting vehicles overnight on the T, "ultimately, ice buildup won." Seven vehicles became stuck on the line and two overhead wires came down before the scheduled start of service.

Port Authority was able to start limited service on the Red Line by 6:30 a.m. but the Blue Line remained closed until 10:45 a.m., when limited service was restored on the Blue Line-South Hills Village route. Service throughout the rail system was restored by 11:30 a.m.

Ice and snow brought down trees on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the eastern part of the state, between Morgantown, Pa., and Valley Forge, some blocking the right lanes, turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said.

Mike Calabrese Jr., 61, the owner of Calabrese Printing on Noble Avenue in Crafton, said he was on his way to work Wednesday morning when he got a call from the police.

"The roof just caved in from the weight of the snow," Mr. Calabrese said.

Most of the damage to the building and equipment will be covered by insurance and no one was injured, Mr. Calabrese said, though it may be four or five months until he is able to reopen.

A fatal crash involving three tractor-trailers closed the turnpike in both directions between Harrisburg West (Exit 242) and Gettysburg Pike (Exit 236) from 11 p.m. Tuesday through early Wednesday afternoon.

The weather service reported snowfall totals in Allegheny County ranging from 1.5 inches in the city to 5.1 inches at its offices in Moon. In Butler County, 7.5 inches fell north of Butler and 6.5 inches in Cranberry. Three inches were reported in Eighty Four in Washington County. Up to 10 inches fell in Clarion County, according to the weather service. Eight inches piled up in Monaca, Karns City and Freeport, while 7 inches fell in Kittanning.

At a briefing Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Corbett said the storm "has had a direct impact all across the state of Pennsylvania."

Most of those without power were customers of PECO in southeast Pennsylvania. Mr. Corbett said the company had 180 of its crews and contractor crews in the field and asked electric providers in neighboring states to send another 500 crews.

"People are going to have to have some patience," he said, because crews had to wait for removal of downed trees from roads and power lines before restoring power.

Nearly 700 Pennsylvania National Guard troops were called up and placed on standby Tuesday night, but were not deployed, Mr. Corbett said.

Jon Schmitz: or 412-263-1868. Twitter: @pgtraffic. Staff writers Robert Zullo and Lexi Belculfine contributed.

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