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We Still Have A Few Weeks Before Spring, But Warmer Temps Have Already Taken Their Toll

Keith Srakocic
Workers stand along the roadway that was shut due to a landslide that started on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, as clearing work continues on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, in Pittsburgh.

It's not actually spring, but Pittsburgh's warm and rainy winter has made it hard to tell. 

According to the National Weather Service, Pittsburgh's average temperature in February was nearly 40 degrees. We also got a record-breaking 7 inches of rain, beating out the previous record of 6.5 inches in 1887.

While that might make for a more comfortable winter, it’s brought flooding and notably more landslides.

The city has its eye on more than a dozen landslides, including one that destroyed a home in Duquesne Heights last month.

City spokesman Tim McNulty said the city has blown past its $2.25 million allocated for landslide repairs, but there’s still more work to be done.

“When you get into public safety matters, you can’t put a price tag on it,” he said. “You have to clean up these areas, so we will spend whatever it takes to make the city safe.”

McNulty said the city plans to dip into reserve funds to help pay for geotechnical surveys of the sites, as well as any remediation that needs to be done, such as adding fencing or netting.

He said the freeze-thaw cycle has contributed to the shifting ground. It’s also the reason why Pittsburgh has had such a miserable pothole season so far. Typically, the plants that produce hot asphalt don't open until closer to April, which is why Department of Public Works crews use the less sturdy cold patch. However, Mayor Bill Peduto tweeted Friday that the plant used by the city would open by March 12.

And Pittsburgh, McNulty said, is just prone to landslides.

“As the mayor has put it, you know, California deals with earthquakes, western Pennsylvania has to deal with hill slides and landslides,” he said. “It’s just a fact of life.”

Pittsburgh has also been hit hard with flooding in recent weeks, contributing to rising rivers that have flooded the point, North Shore and sections of downtown.

McNulty said the Mon Wharf, which is currently closed, has also closed for flooding far more times than in years past.

But, as McNulty pointed out, the arrival of spring should ease these weather woes.

“Hopefully spring will be here soon and these things will start to go away,” he said.