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Allegheny County prepares for winter weather; 1-3" of snow expected in Pittsburgh area

Julia Zenkevich
90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Department of Public Works is gearing up for potential snowfall over the next few days. On Wednesday Public Works officials were expecting between one and three inches of snow from Thursday evening into Friday morning.

Stephen Shanley, the director of the county’s department of Public Works, said his department is ready for what could be the first major snowfall of the year – though current forecasts predict snowfall will be closer to an inch.

“The snow totals are looking lower at this time, but we’ll monitor it and adjust our plans accordingly,” said Shanley.

Public Works hasn’t faced any COVID-19-related shortages of staff or supplies yet, Shanley said. It has 56 drivers to operate its trucks, the same as last year. Public Works has 22 salt trucks ready to hit the roads on Thursday and Friday, and an additional 30 trucks have been inspected and are ready to use if needed.

The county has also stockpiled 9,198 tons of salt and 3,705 gallons of liquid calcium chloride— two important ingredients for de-icing roads. Allegheny County uses an average of 18,000 tons of salt and 2,000 gallons of calcium chloride each year.

Even if this week’s snow is light, Public Works is preparing to remove ice and snow from more than 360 miles of local roadways for the rest of the winter. During a storm, salt truck drivers work on rotating shifts.

As temperatures drop, Shanley suggests residents and drivers prepare for colder and snowier weather.

“Bridges and culverts, they ice up sooner than the roadways,” he said. “But also, the runoff that comes from the hillsides tends to ice up alongside the road, so people have got to be cautious of that.”

Drivers should slow down and leave extra space between other vehicles and salt trucks in icy conditions, Shanley said. They should also give salt trucks plenty of room to operate. Some drivers may want to assemble an emergency kit with non-perishable food, water, and first aid supplies to leave in their car during the winter.

Residents can find out who is responsible for treating specific roadwayshere.

Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at