Weather outside may be frightful

November 25, 2013
PennDOT employee Larry Lheureau operates a salt truck while Brandon Ross uses a loader to fill Lheureau’s truck with salt to prepare for the winter storm. - Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Driving over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving this year could be more challenging than remembering the lyrics to every holiday jingle. While Thanksgiving Day is expected to stay dry, several inches of snow are likely to fall today and tomorrow.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Washington County from this morning until Wednesday afternoon, meaning that snow, sleet or ice could severely affect travel. The weather service predicts that six or more inches of snow could potentially accumulate through the period.

Tom Kines, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, said that later this evening there is likely to be a “potpourri of snow, sleet and rain, eventually changing over to just plain snow as we get deeper into the night.”

Kines predicted that one to three inches of snow will accumulate overnight, and tomorrow’s forecast shows flurries, strong winds and a high of 32 degrees. Thanksgiving Day temperatures are predicted to plummet to the 20s, but no snow is expected.

“If we do get above freezing on Wednesday, with the return of much colder air we (have to) watch out for a rapid freeze-up,” Kines said, “so if there is snow to be shoveled, you should probably get that done in the early part of the day before it would turn into a glacier.”

Today and tomorrow will be the worst days for holiday travel because “roads are likely to be treacherous,” Kines said.

Adam Smith, maintenance manager for the state Department of Transportation in Washington County, said roads were pre-treated Monday to prepare for the snow, and there will be about 60 trucks available to treat roads this week.

“We’re not exactly sure what we’re going to get – if it’s going to come in as rain or ice or snow,” Smith said, adding that holiday travelers should be careful and allow ample time to reach their destinations.

Travelers who are flying to or from Pittsburgh for the holidays should keep checking with their individual airlines for delays or cancellations, said Brad Penrod, executive director of Pittsburgh International Airport.

Penrod said airlines are continuously monitoring conditions that could affect flights – such as the amount and type of snow – but whether planes stay put or fly also depends on one’s destination.

“You can never outguess Mother Nature,” Penrod said. “I expect the forecast to change a little bit over the next couple days.”

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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