Arctic air that swept through the region this week with biting wind chills of 10 below zero is expected to deliver a goodbye kiss today.
Forecasters predict Wednesday will have a high of 17 with scattered snow showers and wind chills between 10 below and zero. A wind chill advisory issued by the National Weather Service on Monday night will expire at 11 a.m. today.
The last few days have proved difficult to endure, but the weather pales in comparison to the coldest month in Pittsburgh's history 36 years ago.
January 1977 saw an average monthly temperature of 11.4 degrees, meteorologist Lee Hendricks said, adding that the current average temperature this month is about three times higher.
Former Mayor Sophie Masloff said she remembers that winter and the havoc it spread across the city well.
"It was so bad that you couldn't even get through the streets to work," Ms. Masloff said. "I don't remember a winter quite as bad."
A total of 26.5 inches of snow fell then, which ranks third in the city's history behind the 40.2 inches that fell in January 1978 and 30.1 inches in January 1994.
Mr. Hendricks, then a student at West Allegheny High School, recalls that the cold blast came with a perk.
"We had two weeks off from school when those cold temperatures hit and we lost power in the area," he said.
A Post-Gazette news story that appeared Feb. 1, 1977, compared Pittsburgh's frosty temperatures to that of Moscow, claiming our city was one degree colder than the Russian capital's typical January average. Wind chill on some nights reached as low as 40 degrees below zero.
It shouldn't be nearly as bad tonight, as temperatures are predicted to dip no lower than 12 degrees. Wind chill is expected to remain between 10 below and zero overnight, and temperatures should peak at about 20 degrees Thursday.
More than 100 schools and districts are delaying start times or canceling classes today.
But even as the bitter cold moves out, more winter weather is on the way. Forecasters predict snow to return Friday and drop about 2 to 3 inches on the region.
Taryn Luna: email@example.com or 412-263-1985. Marylynne Pitz contributed. First Published January 23, 2013 5:00 AM