Snow arrives in Pittsburgh, quickly turns roads treacherous

Traffic backed up on major highways and several crashes were reported as the predicted snowstorm moved into town today.

Snow began falling before 10 a.m. in Downtown Pittsburgh, and fell fast enough to quickly coat roads, bridges and ramps.

Emergency crews soon found themselves busy responding to crashes and stuck vehicles.

Crashes were reported on the Parkway North, Route 28 near Harmar, Interstate 79 near Canonsburg, West Liberty Avenue and the Parkway East. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

PennDOT announced the HOV lanes of the Parkway North would remain closed so crews could focus on the main highway.

Pittsburgh's director of public works, Rob Kaczorowski, said his crews are clearing streets as fast as they can get to them.

But he cautioned, "It's an ongoing effort. It's going to be a continuous effort."

He said the city has 60 pieces of snow-removing equipment out to clear 1,800 lane miles of roadway.

And roads clogged with cars, trucks and buses aren't helping.

"We're having some trouble getting access to neighborhoods," he said.

Traffic barely crept up the Parkway West toward Green Tree early this afternoon, where the highway was jammed in both directions. Jams also were reported on the parkway just west of I-79 and around Robinson Town Centre.

Drivers trying to reach the Fort Pitt Bridge from the Parkway East and the Fort Duquesne Bridge found themselves barely moving.

Allegheny County closed the Homestead Grays Bridge early this afternoon because of icy conditions.

The snowfall was part of a fast-moving "Alberta Clipper" system and weather forecasters backed off on Thursday's prediction that it might leave as much as 6 inches. The revised forecast called for 1 to 3 inches, but the low end of that had been surpassed in most areas by noon.

The National Weather Service reported 14-degree weather, snow and freezing fog shortly before 1 p.m. The cold helped contributed to hazardous driving, as traffic packed the snow, turning it to ice.

A winter weather advisory is in effect through 1 a.m. tomorrow for Western Pennsylvania counties from Forest, Venango and Mercer in the north to Allegheny, Washington and Greene in the southwest.

Higher elevations in Westmoreland and Fayette counties will be under a winter storm warning through 7 p.m. Saturday, where 4 to 6 inches may fall. Preston and Tucker counties in West Virginia and Garrett County, Md., also were in the warning area.

Some schools, primarily to the southeast of Pittsburgh, have closed for the day. Others had early dismissal.

For the listing of closings and delays, visit the PG's news partner, KDKA-TV.

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First Published January 25, 2013 11:30 AM


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