City officials advise public to use caution ahead of weather event

It may feel spring-like now, but Pittsburgh city officials are urging residents to be safe rather than sorry as weather experts predict a sudden drop in temperature and dangerous freezing rain and ice through Saturday.

Friday morning, Chief Operations Officer, Guy Costa, Public Safety Director, Wendell Hissrich, and Director of Public Works, Mike Gable, announced how they are preparing for potentially hazardous weather conditions and advised the public to exercise patience and caution throughout.

“…Go home and bunker down until tomorrow…give us the opportunity to get the streets clear…use common sense,” Costa said.

People in areas surrounding Pittsburgh woke up to flood damage Friday morning. According to Director Gable, Public Works crews will continue to monitor low lying areas, specifically Washington Boulevard, in addition to riverfronts.

The National Weather Service is predicting the freezing rain to start around 6 p.m. Friday as temperatures drop rapidly.

“Employers may want to consider letting workers go home before the Friday afternoon rush hour to make travel less treacherous,” a press release from the Office of the Mayor indicates.

Pittsburgh crews are prepared for the 4″ of snow that they are expecting through Saturday at 7 a.m.

“We have sufficient resources of both vehicles and personnel for what’s going to be thrown at us over the next 15 to 20 hour period,” Director Gable said.

158 environmental service employees, and 20 contractors with crews and equipment will be at the city’s disposal if needed.

Public Works has 20,000 tons of rock salt, which will be treated with liquid calcium chloride to make it more effective.

Costa says the ultimate goal is to get primary routes treated six hours after the snow has ended.

The Public Works’ weather system predicts 2-4″ which classifies the storm as a level 2. Crews will respond 32 hours after snow has concluded under a level 2 classification.

Although Director Gable is “very concerned about the ice,” getting ahead of the ice and pre-treating roadways is not always possible.

“We are going to pre-treat if and only if weather conditions allow us…” Gable explained that if there is heavy rain, they will not pre-treat the roads because it will just wash away the materials.

You can follow Public Works’ plow tracker to see where and when crews will be in your neighborhood.

Costa “I want folks to understand that it’s a very difficult storm to deal with…be patient with us. We will have ample crews out there working to do the job.”

Director Hissrich said Public Safety has added two addition medic units and one additional EMT unit in preparation of potential additional incidents because of dangerous conditions.

“…You will be seeing an engine or a truck accompanying the medic unit or the ambulance…that provides four additional personnel with shovels and also the manpower that we would need to carry the equipment to the patient or bring the patient to the ambulance…”

Public Works will be communication with EMS staff and will respond and assist ambulances in an event of an emergency if necessary, according to Costa.

City officials reminds the public to be aware of potentially icy sidewalks and staircases and to bundle up, especially if you plan on attending Sunday’s Steelers’ game.

“We’re talking about highs of about 15 degrees…you may not be able to do it for four hours unless you’re dress appropriately…On the EMS side, we will be providing additional assets to Heinz Field just in case of that situation.”

The Mon Wharf parking lot will most likely be closed for the Steelers game Sunday. Fans are advised to park at the 1st Avenue parking garage and then take the T to the North Shore.