Snow clobbers Westmoreland, misses Pittsburgh

Governor declares disaster emergency

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A rare late April storm dumped up to 9 inches of wet snow on parts of Westmoreland County today, knocking out power to thousands and prompting the governor to declare a statewide disaster emergency.

But predictions of heavy snowfall in Pittsburgh melted away as the temperature remained well above freezing, prompting the National Weather Service to lift a winter weather advisory for Allegheny and Washington counties.

At the height of the storm more than 27,000 customers were without power in Westmoreland County, according to FirstEnergy. Thousands also lost power in Indiana, Cambria, Fayette and Clearfield counties.

Gov. Tom Corbett announced the disaster emergency this afternoon, allowing counties to bypass the normal contract bidding procedures in their efforts to clean up after the storm.

The storm, the back end of a nor'easter moving up the Atlantic coast, generated a band of steady snow that stretched from Rochester, N.Y., as far south as Bluefield, W.Va.

Shortly before 8 a.m., the Pennsylvania Turnpike declared a weather emergency and lowered the speed limit to 45 mph between Donegal (Exit 91) and Bedford (Exit 146) with heavy snow falling through that corridor.

But the snow/rain dividing line never tracked far enough westward to whiten Pittsburgh streets and sidewalks.

"We didn't get as much cold air wrapping in as we expected, which pretty much isolated the snowfall to the east," weather service meteorologist Lee Hendricks said.

Winter storm warnings remained for Westmoreland and more than 20 other counties in Western Pennsylvania. The village of Acme near Donegal had received 9 inches by this afternoon.

Among the school districts that called off classes today were Blairsville-Saltsburg, Connellsville Area, Greater Latrobe, Homer-Center, Ligonier Valley, Marion Center Area and Mount Pleasant Area.

State officials urged people who need assistance to call their local emergency management offices. Updated road conditions are available at breaking - region - Transportation

Jon Schmitz: First Published April 23, 2012 11:00 PM


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