Warmth is on the way to 'Burgh; ski resorts expect rise in business
Bud Martin of Greenfield walks through a snow-covered scene Wednesday along Overlook Drive in Schenley Park.
Jean Herskowitz dashes across Beacon Street in Squirrel Hill just in time to catch the bus heading toward Downtown at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Tiffany Grimes makes a snowman with her sons, Luke, left, 8, and Hunter, 5, in their front yard in Franklin Park after the boys' school was closed due to a heavy snowstorm Wednesday.
Steven Annegarn of Friendship finds himself on the receiving end of a handful of snow from his son Leo, 6, during a visit to Flagstaff Hill.
Skier John Denard enjoys a fresh powder run on Hidden Valley Resort's Cobra Glades Wednesday morning.
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The two groups perhaps most thrilled about what could have been the last big snow of the season: kids and ski resort employees.
Several schools in southwestern Pennsylvania were closed Wednesday, including Pittsburgh Public Schools, which was originally operating on a 2-hour delay. Others opened on a delayed schedule.
And ski resort employees said the snow, coupled with a positive outlook for this weekend, will bring big turnouts toward the end of a season that, historically, has gone either way.
"March is at Mother Nature's beck and call," said Anna Weltz, spokeswoman for Seven Springs Mountain Resort, which was bordering on 10 inches of snow Wednesday afternoon.
The winter storm warning for Allegheny, Fayette, Westmoreland, Greene and Washington counties ended Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Though some were expecting even more snow in the Laurel Highlands, the weather service actually ended its warning in Fayette and Westmoreland counties' ridges and parts of West Virginia just before 2:30 p.m.
The exit of the winter storm will usher in much better weather here, with four consecutive sunny or partly sunny days ahead and temperatures gradually rising to the mid-50s, according to the weather service.
Between 200 and 300 people buy a ski ticket on a typical midweek day in March, said Scott Bender, Hidden Valley's vice president of resort operations. On Wednesday, business doubled with families: kids off school and adults who didn't have to report to work.
"Depending on what the weather does, on a Wednesday, on March 6, people's interest typically starts to turn to other things and getting ready for spring," Mr. Bender said. "[The snow] is great for business."
The snow started at 11 p.m. Tuesday night and by late Wednesday morning, totaled 9 or 10 inches there, he said. The resort's Spring Carnival festivities are scheduled for this weekend.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia counted two feet of snow in a short period of time, and it was still coming down Wednesday afternoon, marketing director Dave Dekema said.
It was a pretty typical day there, though, because the road conditions kept some people off the roads. Resorts employees are expecting throngs this weekend for the Ballhooter Spring Break event, geared toward college students.
"We're expecting a fantastic crowd, and they're really going to luck out," Mr. Dekema said.
Back in Allegheny County, snowfall totals reported Wednesday morning included 11.8 inches near the Holiday Park section of Plum, 11.5 inches in the Natrona Heights area, 8.1 inches in Penn Hills, 7.5 inches in Ross, 6 inches in Fox Chapel and 4 inches in Pittsburgh's Carrick neighborhood and in West Mifflin.
Travel problems were few in and around Pittsburgh, as road crews kept most main thoroughfares clear. By noon Wednesday, much of the snow Downtown had melted away.
Some weather-related power outages were being reported, primarily in northeastern Allegheny County. West Penn Power on its interactive website said around 11 a.m. that 361 customers had service interrupted, down from more than 650 customers about 7 a.m. Only a handful of customers countywide were still affected late Wednesday afternoon.
First Published March 7, 2013 12:00 am