Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Warmth and Lack of Snow Confuse

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Warmth and Lack of Snow Confuse

Article excerpt

Friday's warm and sunny weather, with a light breeze riffling the scent of thawing earth to our noses, was perfect. For April.

For January, those balmy temperatures landed 20 degrees above normal, at least temporarily melting hopes for wintery fun -- snowshoes and a new sled under the Christmas tree, anyone? -- in the Pittsburgh area. Venture Outdoors' family-friendly snowshoe lesson at Brush Creek Park in Beaver County this Sunday, for instance, has had a slight change of plans.

"There's not going to be any snow," said Lora Woodward, the group's public program director. "So it's going to be showing off the snow shoes, walking around on the grass in them and then taking them off and going for a hike."

With today's high expected to reach just 42 degrees and temperatures expected to turn colder by midweek, Friday's warm-up is probably a blip in a slightly warmer-than-usual winter, according to the National Weather Service at the Pittsburgh International Airport. Although Friday's high of 56 was much above the normal 36, it didn't come close to the record high of 70 set in 1946.

And while most of the snow from Monday and Tuesday has turned to slush in Pittsburgh, the area actually saw 4.8 inches of snow in the first week of January, more than twice as much snow as it typically gets in that period, according to meteorologist Brad Rehak.

Other areas of the country, however, are experiencing a snow drought, with just 22 percent of the nation covered by snow on Wednesday -- the smallest amount recorded in the past eight years, according to AccuWeather.com. The Sierra of California and the mountains of Nevada and Utah, along with the northern Plains and the upper Great Lakes, have been particularly dry, according to the weather service. Snowfall in the Sierra and Utah were well above normal last year, however.

While southwest Pennsylvania's mushy conditions extend even to the parks in the usually snowbound Laurel Highlands -- the Laurel Ridge WebCam in Ligonier at www. …

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