Anyone under the illusion that Friday's spring-like weather was here to stay is in for a cold dose of reality the next two days.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch Saturday, predicting up to 6 inches of snow starting late tonight and continuing into Monday night.
A strong storm system is expected to move northward through Central Pennsylvania and push a cold front into Western Pennsylvania, Northern West Virginia and Western Maryland, according to the weather service.
The following counties in Western Pennsylvania are included in the advisory: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Clarion, Fayette, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango and Westmoreland.
Rain is expected to turn to wet snow late tonight, which could become heavy around Monday morning and continue into the night, when the Pirates are scheduled for a home match-up against the Colorado Rockies.
Temperatures may reach the low 30s with winds northwest at 15 to 25 mph and gusts of up to 45 mph, according to the advisory.
The advisory warns of power outages and slick travel conditions for Monday morning, when visibility may fall to less than a quarter mile.
If predictions of 6 inches of snow prove true, it will be a record for this time of the year, according to the weather service.The current record of snowfall that hit the area after April 15 is 3.9 inches on April 18, 1953. No more than 1.6 inches of snow has been recorded for April 23 or 24 in any year.
The single-day snowfall record for this late in the season is 3.1 inches on May 9, 1966.
"It's very rare and sort of a surprise to come this late," said National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Rehak.
The city might not see many April snow showers, but it isn't that unusual to areas surrounding the region, said AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Alan Reppert.
He said the recent warm front will help keep the city streets slushy rather than icy.
The snowfall won't be anything the region hasn't seen before, he said, even if most would rather wait until next winter.
"It shouldn't be too hard on people even though they did see some warmer weather early in the year," he said.weather - region
Deborah M. Todd: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1652. First Published April 22, 2012 12:00 AM