The wrath of Winter Storm Stella was severely misjudged, but she doesn't seem to be holding it against anyone.
The wrath of Winter Storm Stella was severely misjudged in our area, but she doesn't seem to be holding it against anyone.
'We were spared by Stella, thankfully,' said Connellsville Mayor Greg Lincoln. 'If you would have checked the grocery stores, they're out of bread and milk.'
Meteorologists forecast Winter Storm Stella would dump 6 to 10 inches of snow in most of Fayette County late Monday night and Tuesday morning, with nearly 12 inches in high-elevation areas. Instead, most of Fayette County received about one inch of snow. The mountainous areas in Farmington received about 1.5 inches of snow, while high-elevation areas in the Mon Valley received about 1 to 2 inches, according to meteorologist Fred McMullen with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.
He said a dry patch of air was credited for sparing residents from a blizzard. The dry area formed unexpectedly overnight, preventing snow formation.
Southeast of the region, Garrett County, Maryland, and Preston County, West Virginia, received about 6 inches of snow without the benefit of the dry air.
'But the snow is not over yet,' he said.
McMullen forecast snow showers for Tuesday and Wednesday, saying about 1 to 2 additional inches was expected each day. He said the weather is not turning to spring yet. Low temperatures are expected into next week.
Local municipal officials said they were continuing to monitor the snowfall through Wednesday and had plenty of road treatment materials in stock.
Valerie Petersen, Community Relations Coordinator with PennDOT District 12 that covers Fayette and Greene counties, said there were no weather-related issues in the district from Monday into Tuesday.
"Today is just a regular day for us," Petersen said.
Petersen said Monday's weather predictions were met with the typical preparation with salt stockpiles in strategic areas in the counties along with mechanics at those locations in case of any necessary truck repairs.
"We want to make sure we have enough quantity with product," Petersen said of the salt, anti-skid and solution for pre-treating roadways.
While the winter was mild, and the crews didn't have much of a chance to plow the roads, Petersen said this was a product-using year.
Even though Petersen said she didn't have the exact amount of salt and anti-skid product on hand, she said the district has an adequate supply to last throughout the remainder of the season.
"We're always prepared," Petersen said. "We can't stop Mother Nature, but we do our best to keep the roads as clear as possible."
Petersen said when it comes to winter travel, motorists should also be prepared by expecting the unexpected.
Even though Petersen said people in District 12 were lucky to not have experienced the heavy amount of snow Harrisburg and counties in the east have, there's still water runoff in the area that can freeze and create icy patches.
"If you know it's going to snow really bad, just stay home," Petersen said. "Better to be safe."
Petersen said if someone has to head out, always have their vehicles prepared for winter weather including good windshield wipers and tires, clear headlights, full wiper fluid and the vehicle supplied with bottled water, a blanket, extra boots and gloves in case the car stops running or kitty litter to use as traction if the car is stuck.
"Always give yourself enough time to get where you're going," Petersen said. "Try to give yourself enough time to get to your destination so you're not in a rush."
Along with PennDOT, Columbia Gas also wants residents to safely prepare and deal with a snow storm.
Some of the gas company's tips include making sure all heating appliances are operating property and safely used by manufacturer's instructions, never use stoves or ovens as a heating source, use adequate ventilation when using fireplaces or space heaters, use fireplace screens to catch sparks and rolling fireplace logs, make sure heating equipment is turned off or extinguished when leaving a room, keep pipes from freezing, check carbon monoxide detectors are properly working and to evacuate a home if the "rotten egg" smell of natural gas it detected and call 911.
Lincoln said the biggest concern during storms is power outages. He said warming centers were prepared in case of outages, and road crews were on call to work overnight shifts.
'I'd say the only people who are disappointed about this are the kids who only had a 2-hour delay today,' he said. 'There's a lot less stress that comes without having a foot of snow on the ground.'
Uniontown Mayor Bernie Kasievich said he was continuing to monitor snowfall throughout the day Tuesday. He said crews were on standby and a stockpile of salt and ash was on hand to treat roads. But when he woke up early in the morning, he looked out the window to see only a dusting of snow on the ground and made some calls.
'I said, 'Guess what. We're looking pretty good,'' he said.
Waynesburg Borough Manager Mark Simms said Waynesburg police officers were monitoring snowfall overnight to keep borough officials apprised of any problems. He said crews were ready with a full bin of rock salt, but no snow fell overnight.
'I didn't go anywhere near the grocery stores, but I'm sure people were stocking up on supplies,' he said.
South Union Township Supervisor Rick Vernon said supervisors checked the roads at 4 a.m. Tuesday. Plow trucks were loaded with supplies.
'There was no storm. We lucked out,' he said. 'We were all ready to go.'
Perry Township Supervisor A.J. Boni said he made sure his road crews were well rested and ready to work a long day. He said storms are mentally draining on crews with high pressure and long hours.
'Just waiting it out, it's like a cat and mouse game with Mother Nature,' he said. 'You see what she does and react to what happens.'
He said one of the plow trucks had an electrical problem crews noticed in advance, and received backup from neighboring municipalities. Residents were kept informed through social media, and could contact officials if they needed help.
He said he knew there would be little concern about the snowstorm when Wharton Township supervisors told him they only received a small amount of snow. He said he is grateful for joint efforts with neighbors, and a hardworking crew.
'You can't panic,' he said. 'It's gonna come. It's gonna go. And by Saturday, you'll never know it was here.'
Staff writer Mark Hoffman contributed to this report.