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Snow slows for afternoon drive time

March 21, 2018 News Extra

A two-vehicle accident at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on Interstate 79 resulted in no injuries, according to state police. JW Johnson/butler eagle

Today’s snowstorm should taper out soon in Butler County, according to an online forecast by the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.

But, the damage, although minor, has already been done.

A two-vehicle accident Wednesday morning was the result of the barrage of winter weather.

The accident was reported just before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on Interstate 79 southbound in Cranberry Township. According to state police, no injuries were reported.

Officials said they had spent the morning responding to more than a dozen accidents on I-79, though all were minor and the result of the conditions. No injuries were reported.

That was, in a nutshell, the story of Wednesday’s morning commute. The heavy, wet snow blanketing Butler County had caused 43 accidents as of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, but nothing has been major, according to county employees.

Robert McLafferty, Butler County 911 coordinator, said the statistic does not reflect the severity of the accidents.

“They weren’t all injuries, but they were vehicle accidents,” McLafferty said. “Nobody is aware of anything that was major.”

Butler County is under a winter weather advisory until 8 p.m., according to the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.

The forecast listed on the service’s website said snow accumulations reached three inches in some places, but the snow should taper into better weather by 4 p.m. Wednesday.

As of now, no snow is predicted for the remainder of the week.

Mike Mattis, PennDOT Butler County maintenance manager, said the snow was easier to handle later in the day.

“The temperatures are starting to go up now,” Mattis said. “We’re getting a better handle on them.”

Mattis said Butler County deployed their plows shortly before the storm began. He said some roads are worse than others.

“We do focus a lot on our main roads,” he said. “Some of our secondary roads may have some slush on them.”

Mattis said people should drive safe and be aware of plows on the road to avoid adding further risk to their commute.

“Stay back from our plows,” he said. “Allow us about 500 feet back from a plow truck, and don’t pass them if you don’t have to.”

Lafferty said 911 has been handling calls well and are prepared for more.

“The county is still covered right now,” McLafferty said. “We’re still recommending that everybody use extreme caution.”

The inclimate weather also caused PIAA officials to postpone games scheduled as part of the state’s high school basketball championship tournament.

Mars boys will now play Arlington Heights in the Class 5A title game at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Early Wednesday afternoon PIAA officials handed down decisions to reschedule the girls’ semi-final matchups for Saturday. The games, which had been already been pushed back once, were also moved.

The Mars girls are scheduled to play Archbishop Carroll at 1 p.m. Saturday at State College High School in the 5A semifinal, followed by Cardinal Wuerl taking on Berks Catholic in the 4A semifinal at 2:30 p.m. at the same location.