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Potential record-breaking cold temperatures will give way to warm-up this weekend

Emily Balser
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Tribune-Review
Temperatures dropped to the single digits on Wednesday morning in the Western Pennsylvania region.
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Tribune-Review
As temperatures dropped into the single digits Wednesday morning, Jan. 30, 2019, ice began to form on the Allegheny River in Tarentum.

The Pittsburgh region could reach record-breaking cold temperatures this week as the region continues to experience a sub-zero cold snap.

Myranda Fullerton, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon, said the coldest Jan. 30 on record is minus 1 degree in 1934.

“We’ll definitely be competing with that,” Fullerton said.

Temperatures for today and Thursday are projected to reach minus 6 degrees with a wind chill much lower as arctic air continues to blow in with other cold fronts.

“As we head toward sunrise (Thursday) we’ll be right around 6 below with wind chill of 22 below,” Fullerton said.

Although everyone expects winter to be cold, Fullerton said these temperatures are colder than normal.

“We’re running 30 degrees below average with these temperatures,” she said.

The coldest January temperature on record was 22 degrees below zero on Jan. 19, 1994.

Fullerton said this kind of weather pattern also brings in snow squalls. Commuters might have run into a snow squall early Wednesday , bringing quick-moving snow that greatly reduces visibility for drivers.

Although snow squalls aren’t necessarily a new concept, the weather service issuing a snow squall warning is. Fullerton said snow squalls would have been covered under a general winter weather advisory in previous years.

“In order for a snow squall warning to be verified, we need visibly of a quarter mile or less in conjunction with 35 mile per hour wind,” she said.

Warming centers have been set up across the region to ensure residents aren’t stuck in the cold.

Most of the region’s colleges and universities canceled classes Wednesday, including the University of Pittsburgh , Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne University, Chatham, Robert Morris, Slippery Rock, California University, LaRoche College, Westmoreland County Community College, Community College of Allegheny County, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Duquesne and California also cancelled classes for Thursday.

Most area school districts also closed for the day. A complete list of school and business closings can be found at Tribune-Review news partner WPXI’s website.

The National Weather Service is also keeping an eye on the area’s rivers as ice is expected to form. Last winter’s frozen rivers caused ice jams, flooding and damaged boat docks for many who live along them.

‘Heat wave’ on the way

Temperatures are expected to slowly start warning up beginning Friday and reach 50 degrees by Sunday as the arctic air moves out and southwest winds bring in warmer air. Those temperatures will last into at least Monday.

“It’s going to feel like summertime,” Fullerton said.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter @emilybalser.