Pittsburgh's snowfall for February keeps piling up

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Normally, a few inches of snow falling on Pittsburgh in the middle of February wouldn't be much of a concern.

But this hasn't been a normal February.

Cold temperatures have kept this month's record snowfall from melting, meaning that every flake that falls adds to the massive piles that residents and road crews are creating wherever they can.

The storm that rolled into the region Monday night dumped another couple of inches of snow on Pittsburgh, with more expected today. The National Weather Service, which issued a winter weather advisory through midnight tonight, predicted at least 4 inches for the city and heavier snowfall to the south and east.

A winter storm warning was issued through 6 a.m. Wednesday for Fayette and Westmoreland counties and until 7 a.m. Wednesday for Cambria and Somerset counties, where as much as 8 to 14 inches of snow was expected through tonight.

But as far as Allegheny County is concerned, the predictions aren't as bad as the two storms that already have passed through town. Still, it's a pain in the accumulation.

"This storm is a little bit different from the last couple of storms we've seen, because this one is coming from the north and doesn't have the moisture that the other storms did," said Brian Edwards, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.com in State College.

The previous pair of storms originated over the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, respectively, loading the clouds with heavy, moist snow. The current storm originated in central Canada and drove down through the Midwest and turned east through the Ohio Valley into our region.

So there's less snow, but there's more coming. The National Weather Service is forecasting similar snow showers on Western Pennsylvania for the rest of the week.

"It looks like it will continue into the weekend," Mr. Edwards said. "I don't honestly see too much of a break in the days ahead. Just this real light stuff."

The inch-and-a-half that fell by 5 p.m. Monday pushed the total for the record-setting month to 34.8 inches. The previous high of 25.3 inches was set in February 2003.

Pittsburgh public works crews are on 12-hour shifts today, according to a statement from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office. Workers will have all 53 pieces of equipment out on the roads, plowing and salting streets, beginning with the most traveled roads.

"We have the equipment and the manpower to deal with this next storm," Public Works Director Rob Kaczorowski said.

The city's 311 response line will operate on its regular hours, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., but with additional staff to process the still-above-normal call volume. Many residents Monday were calling requesting snow piles be removed from residential and business district streets.

"We are using all of our resources to battle this next snow event," Mr. Kaczorowski said. "After this storm, we will remove the piles of snow in business districts and residential streets."

PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi said the department had its full complement of road crews out by 11 a.m., despite the fact that Monday was a state holiday.

The crews did not pretreat roads with salt brine as has been customary before recent storms because it was too cold, he said.

Bob Crawford, PennDOT's maintenance manager for Allegheny County, said the department spent Monday gearing up, repairing equipment and mounting plows.

"We knew it was coming, and we were getting ready, even on Valentine's Day," Mr. Struzzi said.

Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1456 First Published February 16, 2010 5:00 AM


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