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Updated Winter Storm Forecast Calls For Less Snow, More Freezing Rain & Ice

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh-area residents could be scraping more than shoveling after Monday evening's forecast shifted to freezing rain.

The National Weather Service is calling for less snow than previously forecasted across the Pittsburgh region Monday evening, but more ice. Starting at 5 p.m., the city can expect to see snowfall totaling one to two inches; considerably less than the previously forecasted six to eight inches. Rising temperatures will turn much of the projected precipitation to freezing rain by late evening.

National Weather Service models now show as much as a quarter of an inch of ice in the forecast, something acting Pittsburgh Public Works director Chris Hornstein said can be trickier for crews to treat. He tells WESA’s The Confluence that the department will reroute the resources it had ready for the previously forecasted snowfall totals to treat icy roads as quickly as possible.

“We deployed resources for an eight to 12 inch [storm],” said Hornstein. “We’ll keep those resources out on the street to keep the roads clear… and hopefully that will open things up a little bit faster for us as this second wave moves in tonight.”  

Credit National Weather Service
An updated regional winter storm forecast for Feb. 15, 2021.

Allegheny County Public Works crews will continue to operate 27 salt trucks until the storm ends Tuesday. In a statement, the department said it will extend shifts and bring in more drivers if necessary. Crews will use salt covered with liquid calcium chloride to manage the ice accumulation.

PennDOT has implemented temporary speed limit reductions in response to the changing weather conditions. In Allegheny County, I-79, I-279, I-376, I-579 and Route 28  are all under a speed limit of 45 miles per hour.

PennDOT has also reduced the speed limit on the Beaver Valley Expressway in Beaver County to 45 miles per hour. I-79, I-376 and State Route 422 are also included in the reduced speed limit.

Though forecasters project a smaller snow accumulation Monday evening, the region has already surpassed the average snowfall total for February. Jenna Lake, a NWS meteorologist, said the region has seen 10.6 inches of snow in the first 15 days of the month, surpassing the average 10.2 inches for the entirety of February.

This winter has also earned a spot among the top 10 highest snowfall totals for the Pittsburgh region. The National Weather Service said after Monday morning’s snowstorm, the region has seen more than 50 inches of snow this winter. The highest record snowfall happened during the 2009-2010 winter season, which saw nearly 77 inches of snow.