Winter Weather

Associated Press

If you think it's been a cold February in Pittsburgh, you're right — near-record cold, in fact.

The National Weather Service says the city is on track for the second-coldest February since record-keeping began in 1871.

Meteorologist Rihaan Gangat said Saturday that the temperature averaged about 18.6 degrees for the first 27 days of February.

That is just over the 18-degree average recorded in 1979, the coldest February in recorded Pittsburgh history.

The next coldest February occurred in 1963, with an average temperature of 19.3 degrees.

The Polar Vortex Returns Later This Week

Nov 10, 2014
Matt Niemi / Flickr

The Polar Vortex is back and it's ready to blast 200 million people with arctic air, lunging into the North Central U.S. this week and expanding southward and eastward.

The outbreak of unusually cold air is expected to linger well past the middle of the month.

We'll talk with John Radzilowicz, Director of Professional Development at ASSET STEM Education.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Harsh winters can be a fact of life here in Pittsburgh. This one was different, though — at least it felt that way.

Plunging temps. Frozen pipes. Endless snow. Don't forget the cavernous potholes and worrisome reports of dwindling road salt supplies.

As spring approaches (it's coming, we promise), we recently gave Pittsburghers the chance share their thoughts on these past months of wintry misery:

The Good & The Bad for Businesses in the Winter

Feb 18, 2014
Marcus Eubanks / flickr

With the abundance of cold weather, there has been no shortage of news stories about the climate, energy issues and snow-related complications.

But in addition to an increase in coverage by media outlets, many businesses that sell winter items and services are seeing a big boom in revenue. While others may see a decrease in earnings as a result of the unsettling weather.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris divides the good from the bad and shares the implications of a long winter.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

If you walk down any street these days you are likely to hear a Pittsburgher proclaiming, “I am so ready for this winter to be over.”  Snowfall and low temperature records have been set throughout the northeast and Pittsburgh has been averaging well below normal when it comes to thermometer readings and well above when it comes to snow.

All that has led to higher-than-normal insurance claims and Pennsylvania’s largest homeowner’s and auto insurance provider, State Farm, has been feeling the pinch. 

Marina Weis / 90.5 WESA

UPDATE: 1:19 p.m.

When Pittsburgh City Council gathered Tuesday it offered a wide range of opinions on how the Public Works Department handled the most recent storm.  Councilwoman Darlene Harris came down on the critical side.

“This morning on the way to work, I came down what you would call an emergency route, to find a bus sideways on the street, cars stuck everywhere sideways, with a salt truck sitting there with only sand on it,” said Harris.

The Pitfalls of Predicting Weather a Season in Advance

Jan 31, 2014
CJ Schmit / Flickr

From the earliest years of our nation’s history there have been two books published each year to guide gardeners, cooks, housekeepers and farmer’s on a range of topics, including seasonal weather.

The Farmer’s Almanac and the Old Farmer’s Almanac include long range predictions of weather in the United States. This year, both books predicted a colder than normal winter for our area. But what about the rest of the country? How accurate are the famed Almanacs, which use centuries-old secret formulas for predicting seasonal weather?

Broken Sphere / Wikipedia

This Sunday, Super Bowl XLVIII pairs the AFC champion, the Denver Broncos with the NFC champion, the Seattle Seahawks.

For the first time, the big game is being played in the cold weather of a northern city, outdoors. This means there may be some snow, and temperatures are likely hover around freezing. How is the weather likely to change the game?

artnoose / Flickr

From mild, rainy, and in the 40's Sunday, to an all-time record low of -9 Tuesday to 50 degree temperatures by end of the week. Pittsburgh is experiencing unprecedented temperature fluctuations and weather patterns. The question is what’s going on with this wacky weather. John Radzilowicz, science expert and director of professional development at ASSET-STEM, believes he has the answer.

Crews at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority are gearing up for a busy week as the deep freeze sets in and is followed by a quick thaw.

“Any extreme change in temperature causes the ground to shift, and when that occurs, the lines break,” said PWSA spokeswoman Melissa Rubin. “We have an old system, we have a lot of pipe that’s 80 years old, a hundred years old. Some of them are old cast iron pipes, and they break when the ground shifts.”

AAA East Central, which serves Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and New York, said they have already fielded nearly three times as many requests for assistance as they would on a typical winter day.

Bevi Powell, senior vice president for AAA East Central, said between midnight and 9 a.m. on Tuesday, the motor club federation has already serviced 1,650 requests for roadside assistance, and that most of those calls have been due to dead batteries.

As the cold descended on the region overnight Monday, the number of warming centers open throughout Allegheny County grew.

Centers in Carnegie, Clairton, Munhall, Oakdale, Shaler, West Deer, and West Mifflin were open all night.  Several other location in the county and five in the City of Pittsburgh were to open Tuesday morning.

Temperatures dipped as low as nine degrees below zero over night and are expected to clime to just seven above throughout the day.

Wind chill temperatures are expected to dip to more than 30 below zero in southwestern Pennsylvania Monday night and Tuesday morning, which means exposed skin could freeze in less than 5 minutes.

As the region begins to experience low temperatures not seen for nearly two decades, city and county officials are preparing for the worst.

Allegheny County has joined up with city officials to staff the Emergency Operations Center.

The Associated Press reports temperatures will continue to fall throughout the day and will not stop until hitting an expected low of nine below zero. Wind gusts of up to 30 miles an hour will result in wind chills of 31 below zero.