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Cold, snow coming Wednesday morning

Cold early morning temperatures are expected to combine with snow Wednesday morning before rush hour.

A cold front is expected to move north into the county and bring 2 to 3 inches of snow between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.

A warm front will then move through in the afternoon, raising the temperature to about 40 degrees and turning the snow into rain. The chance of precipitation is 100%, the National Weather Service said.

A winter weather advisory is in place for the county from 3 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday.

On-and-off rain showers are expected Wednesday afternoon, with wind gusting to nearly 30 mph before the temperature drops and more snow falls Thursday.

Thursday’s forecast calls for a high near 33, an 80% chance of precipitation and wind gusts again reaching nearly 30 mph.

“A little bit of everything,” is how meteorologist Jason Frazier summed up the local forecast.

Caution urged

Due to the potential for icy roads, the state Department of Transportation is preparing to treat roads and is encouraging drivers to drive cautiously.

With freezing temperatures, roads that look wet may be icy, and extra caution is needed when approaching bridges and highway ramps where ice can form without warning.

Motorists should watch for “black ice,” a condition occurring on clear roads when a thin layer of ice forms due to dropping temperatures. When the road looks wet, but no spray is coming from the tires of other vehicles, “black ice” may be present, according to PennDOT.

The use of salt and antiskid material varies by road and precipitation type. On higher-volume roads, salt is the primary material used through a storm, especially during rush hours and on bridges, hills, curves and intersections.

On lower-volume roads, the amount of salt will be reduced, and antiskid will be used more because salt is most effective on roads with higher traffic volumes. Crews closely monitor road and air temperatures to determine the most effective treatment, PennDOT said.

When roads get slick, drivers should decrease speed by half. When driving on ice, motorists should slow to a crawl and leave more space than normal between the vehicle ahead, according to PennDOT.

Brakes should be applied gently on slippery roads, but drivers should ease off the brakes if the vehicle starts to skid and then reapply the brakes after regaining control.

Cruise control should not be used when driving on slippery roads. Snow, ice, slush, and rain can cause wheel-spin and loss of control. The only way to stop wheel spin and regain control is to reduce power. But an activated cruise control system will continue to apply power, keeping the wheels spinning, according to PennDOT.

Motorists can check conditions on roads in the state by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA is free, available 24 hours a day and provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 511, or by following regional Twitter alerts.

Users can also see plow truck routes and locations along a specific route in 511PA using the “Check My Route” tool. Plow truck locations will be indicated by dots along a road. During a heavy or steady snowstorm when snow falls at 1 inch per hour and a truck route takes three hours to complete, three new inches of snow will have fallen at the start of its route before the route is finished. Crews continue to complete routes throughout the storm, but roads will not be free of snow or ice during the storm, according to PennDOT.

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