City officials, public works prepare for Winter Storm Harper


Winter Storm Harper Could Drop 40 Inches of Snow on the Northeast. Photo Credit: (MGN Online)

Gage Goulding

John Blinn, Assistant News Editor

PITTSBURGH — City officials and public works crews around Pittsburgh are preparing to face a strong Winter Storm Harper over the weekend.

The city has an arsenal of plows with salt spreaders, tractors and pickup trucks to fight against the upcoming snow storm. The city believes that it has enough salt spreaders prepared to handle up to 20 inches of snow. Public Works employees are expected to begin working at 10:00 a.m. with up to 60 trucks clearing the roads.

The snowstorm will be a perfect way for crews to test a new supply of blue-tinted salt mixed with magnesium chloride, which is effective in temperatures as low as -25 degrees. Along with this, crews will be using salt containing liquid calcium.

Emergency services chief Matt Brown says his team is ready to tackle the winter weather.

“County 9-1-1 and Emergency Services are fully staffed and also have plans in place to extend shifts, add staff and activate the Emergency Operations Center, as appropriate,” said Brown.

Public Works director Stephen G. Shanley spoke out too, saying, “We will have 33 drivers deployed each shift, and they will be kept over the end of their shifts, if needed, to ensure complete coverage.”

Freezing rain and snow are expected to weigh down tree branches that could be potential threats to utility lines. Due to this, Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Works has called upon the forestry department to be on the lookout. Along with the forestry department, outside contractors have been recruited to help solve this potential problem.

Pittsburgh’s Public Works crews are not the only team that is capable of keeping the public safe and functioning. Pittsburgh firefighters have requested that residents keep fire hydrants clear of snow with a roughly 3-foot perimeter.

Residents are advised to avoid as much travel as possible and refrain driving over the weekend, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday on Monday. Not only do they request this for the public’s safety, but also to make the clearing of the roads easier and faster.

Those who must drive are asked to please do so slowly and carefully.

Two locations will be open to the public as warming centers on Jan. 21st from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Homewood Hal Center–7321 Frankstown Avenue, 15208 412-244-419
  • SouthsideMarkett House Hal Center–12th & Bingham Streets, 15203 412-488-8404

For more updates on the upcoming winter weather, click here.