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Format: 04/23/2014
Format: 04/23/2014

News

Valley News Dispatch: Valley digs out from monster storm

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

By Tom Yerace and Chuck Biedka, VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
 

There may be worse snowstorm horror stories, but what Dennis and Lynne Walters experienced this weekend would be enough for anybody.

The Walters, who live along Little Deer Creek Road in the Rural Ridge section of Indiana Township, shoveled snow Friday night for a few hours, resumed Saturday and finally got their driveway and walks cleared after 14 hours of cold, hard labor.

Their power went off twice during the night, going out completely at 10 a.m. Saturday.

It looked like their luck was changing when they went to Pittsburgh Mills Mall Lowe's to buy a generator to supply electricity until Duquesne Light made repairs.

They asked Jason Miller, Lowe's administrative manager, about generators, Miller pointed to one behind the service desk.

"We have this one, but it's being held for someone and they've got about five more minutes to claim it," Miller explained.

Three minutes later, a woman did, leaving the Walters to contemplate their next move.

"We were trying to find a hotel where we could stay and would take a dog, " Lynne Walters said, adding that they have a dog at home that they would not leave. She said they had no luck.

Their next stop was Sam's Club in hope of finding another generator.

When asked if they were surprised by the snowfall, Dennis Walters quipped, "I'm surprised that the meteorologists may have been correct for once."

BIG BUT NOT BIGGEST

The snowstorm was the fourth largest in area history, according to a National Weather Service.

Meteorologist Rich Kane said 20.6-inches of snow was recorded at the Pittsburgh International airport. While the storm is causing hardship, it didn't nudge the record, he said.

A Nov. 24-26,1950, storm dumped 27.4 inches at the airport and still ranks as the largest snowstorm, Kane said.

The other record snowfalls include one on Dec. 16-18, 1890, which dumped 25.9 inches and the March 12-14, 1993, storm at 25.3 inches.

Snow ranges in the Valley's four counties were 16 to 22 inches, though Bob Bastone, a weather watcher from East Deer, reported 24 inches fell at his home.

Although the snow stopped early Saturday afternoon -- replaced by brilliant sunshine -- the region isn't out of the woods yet, Kane said.

"We expect temperatures of about 8 degrees on Saturday night and Sunday morning," he said.

"This storm is over, but another one is expected early next week," Kane said.

He said we should expect three to five inches on Tuesday into Wednesday.

TRANSPORTATION STALLED

The monster snowstorm that walloped the Valley and other parts of the eastern United States brought transportation to a virtual standstill Saturday.

PennDOT reported numerous roads were closed or nearly impassable, including Routes 28, 66, 56 and 356. The Parkway East outbound was closed was closed for some time, PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi said.

Travel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike was slow and treacherous overnight Friday. The turnpike closed in both directions Friday night near Breezewood, Turnpike spokesman Tom Fox said. It reopened Saturday.

Port Authority shut down virtually all bus service, said PAT spokesman Jim Ritchie. "It's exceptional to have to close down the entire system," he said.

Flights in and out of Pittsburgh International Airport were suspended, but expected to resume Saturday evening, spokesperson Jo Ann Jenny said. She had no estimate on the number of flights that were affected by the storm.

POWER OUTAGES

Allegheny Power was dealing with thousands of outages in the region.

By 4 p.m. Saturday, more than 25,000 customers were without service in Allegheny County as were another 19,000 in Westmoreland County, said Allegheny Power spokesman David Neurohr. More than 100,000 in the four-county region lost power at some point in the storm.

The single largest outage in the Valley appeared to be in the Salina section of Bell Township, where more than 700 customers were without power.

Most of the outages were caused by the heavy snow pushing tree branches into utility lines.

Neurohr said Allegheny Power was working as rapidly as possible to help customers, adding said the company has hired contractor crews to help regular crews.

"Our crews are working around the clock," Neurohr said.

WARMING CENTERS

Allegheny County opened 23 warming centers including one in Verona, while the American Red Cross activated centers in Oakmont, Aspinwall and 10 other communities.

At Verona, a power outage extended from Allegheny River Boulevard to the Allegheny River.That caused the evacuation of a senior center and numerous residences.

About 50 people spent time at the center in the Verona Fire Hall at Parker Street by 2 p.m., said fire captain Mark McClelland.

Firefighters and Verona Borough provided coffee and food, he said.

"About 100 people were planning to spend the night in the Tenth Street Elementary School in Oakmont, according to Red Cross employee and borough emergency management coordinator Theresa Kreegan.

"We fed about 50 supper and most of them went to their homes to retrieve blankets and sleeping bags," she said. "With temperatures dropping to about 8 degrees, we expect many more will come in,"

HOSPITALS SEE INCREASE

Although no deaths were attributed to the storm, snow removal sent numerous people to Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison, said Dr. Jerry Taylor, director of emergency services.

Taylor said several people came in with heart-related ailments.

"We also had some snowblower injuries including a near amputation of a finger," he said.

One person was also treated for a hip fracture related to the storm.

The storm made the day difficult because it also prevented some staff from getting to work.

"If someone has a heart condition, a diabetic or an elderly person not used to physical activity, they shouldn't shovel snow.

"Snow shoveling is extremely hard on the heart. It's an extreme workout," he said.

 

 

 

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