Predictions for major storm fall short

March 3, 2014
The prediction of massive snow never materialized, but locally we did get 2 to 3 inches of fluff that was quickly handled by local municipalities like Peters Township and the snow plow that cleared this road. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

This winter has been brutal, but many residents of Washington and Greene counties managed to escape relatively unscathed from the wrath of a weekend superstorm dubbed Titan.

The two-day storm threatened to dump large quantities of snow – somewhere between six and 20 inches – across the region. However, most places only saw between two and four inches, leaving many to question what all the hype was about.

John Darnley, a hydro-meteorological technician for the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, said the storm was difficult to gauge.

“Two factors played a role. The first being the time of the year,” Darnley said. “The system wasn’t typical, but the cold temperatures and cold air were in place. The second factor was that early predictions a week out showed between 15 and 20 inches. The media jumped on that.”

Darnley said the National Weather Service never predicted inch counts that high.

“We started off with high numbers, then the numbers dipped,” he said. “We ended up somewhere in the middle. We weren’t far off, but we didn’t hype the event. We tried to keep it accurate. We were predicting four to six inches for Washington.”

Darnley said areas in the higher elevations below the Mason-Dixon line actually saw 10 inches, but most in Washington County saw about two to three inches, and many spots in Greene County got only about two inches. However, roughly four inches of snow fell on the Waynesburg area, according to Sam McCullough, manager of the Waynesburg sewer plant, who keeps official records for the National Weather Service.

Snow-covered roads and cold temperatures Monday morning forced two school districts in Washington County – Bethlehem-Center and Fort Cherry – to close, and many others operated with delayings. In Greene County, Carmichaels Area was the only district to hold classes, after a two-hour delay.

No major incidents or accidents were caused by the weather in either county.

In the end, Darnley said there just wasn’t enough moisture in the air to produce the large amounts of snow many were expecting. The remaining forecast for the week still includes low temperatures, but Darnley said temperatures will return to normal – somewhere in the 40s – by the end of the week. Precipitation is also expected for the weekend.

Regardless, Darnley said we aren’t out of the woods just yet. Last March, two snowstorms dropped close to 10 inches on the region.

“In March, it’s always possible for a late snow,” he said. “There’s a lot of factors that go into it, and a lot of unanswered questions.”

Greene County Bureau Chief Jon Stevens contributed to the report.

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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