Largest snow of season paralyzes Pittsburgh
March 16, 2011
For the second consecutive February, winter refused to exit quietly. Not even Punxutawney Phil’s unusual prediction of an early spring could stave off the eight inches of fluffy stuff that descended upon the greater Pittsburgh area the night of February 21st.
Streets were backed up as far as the eye could see Tuesday morning, and many roads still not cleared by 11 o’clock. Schools across the area cancelled classes in the face of the impassable roads. For travelers to the eastern part of the state on Tuesday, it was readily apparent what roads were county-or township-maintained streets and those that were state-maintained (which is to say, not maintained). For example, Curry Hollow Road, a street that runs next to South Park, was at a complete stop for miles.
Fortunately, other portions of the state transportation system were less affected by the precipitation. The Pennsylvania Turnpike was not only cleared of snow, but dry as a bone from New Stanton (about 40 minutes south of USC) clear to Philadelphia. This isn’t very surprising, though, for as any experienced PA traveler knows, most of the weather the Pittsburgh area receives doesn’t make it over the Appalachian Mountains to terrorize the eastern portion of the state. After exiting Allegheny Tunnel, this law of nature was readily observable, with snow accumulation on the sides of the road both smaller and dirtier (indicating they had been there longer) than at the western end of the tunnel.
So separated from Pittsburgh weather conditions is Philadelphia, that the snow Western Pennsylvania received took on an almost mythic air by the early afternoon on Tuesday. Some University of Pennsylvania students even spread rumors that Pittsburgh was buried beneath over 13 inches of snow. Whatever they said about last February’s unforgettable Snowmageddon must have been about a hair short of the apocalypse.
With all this talk of snow, one must think back to February 2nd, when Punxutawney Phil, the “prognosticator of prognosticators,” claimed to not have seen his shadow. According to Pittsburgh weatherman Jon Burnett, this was only the 16th time the giant rodent had ever emerged without glimpsing a darkened version of himself on the ground. Which leads Pittsburghers to wonder, “Where is spring now, Phil?”