Region getting break from winter blast
Count John Dean of Jeannette as one of the few people in the region who are unhappy that the polar vortex that left Western Pennsylvania in sub-zero temperatures this week will slowly disappear.
“I don’t mind this at all. I’ve been waiting for this (cold weather) all winter long,” said a gloveless Dean, enjoying a “balmy” afternoon of ice fishing Thursday in the middle of Twin Lakes’ lower lake, east of Greensburg.
The 29-year-old Dean dropped his small fishing rod into the eight-inch hole he cut into the frozen lake. All that kept him above the frigid water was about seven inches of ice, laced with small cracks that did not concern the veteran ice fisherman.
He was out on the ice several hours after temperatures plunged to minus five degrees Thursday morning, setting the region’s record low for Jan. 31, the National Weather Service in Moon said. It beat the previous record of minus three degrees, set in 1971, and was the fourth sub-zero day in January, said meteorologist Tom Green.
Green blamed the severe cold on an Arctic jet stream that dropped further south than normal. He said it was not close to the Pittsburgh region’s record cold in January — minus 22 degrees on Jan. 19, 1994.
The “good” thing about Thursday’s weather, in addition to the bright sun, was the relatively mild wind that was clocked at just 10 mph. That was well below the gusts that whipped Western Pennsylvania Wednesday and plunged the wind chill factor to 20 degrees below zero, making it miserable for all but fishermen such as Dean.
Walking around the lake Thursday and not on it was a bundled-up Gary Rahl of Hempfield. Rahl said he is an avid cross-country skier who does not mind being out in single-digit temps.
As temperature is expected to rise to 23 degrees Friday, the warmer weather will bring snow, expected to be in the 1-to-3-inch range, Green said. The mountain ridges in eastern Westmoreland County may see more, he added.
Western Pennsylvanians are in for a significant change in the weather over the next 72 hours because the Arctic jet stream will be replaced by warm winds from the south.
Temperatures are expected to jump to 41 degrees Saturday and a balmy 52 degrees on Sunday.
Although there was little snow on the ground, Mark Schneider of West Newton was shoveling the sidewalk in front of his son Scott Lewis’ house on Harvey Avenue in Greensburg.
If the temperatures do rise as predicted, “we’ll enjoy it,” Schneider said.
He was doubtful that the snow forecast by meteorologists will blanket the area.
“You never listen to them ‘cause none of them are right,” Schneider said, showing disdain for forecasters.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or [email protected]