Snowstorm breaks Pittsburgh Christmas Day record
Pittsburgh’s dreams of a white Christmas came true in 2020 — and then some.
The snowstorm Friday broke the Pittsburgh record for most snow received on Christmas Day with 5.1 inches. The previous record, 3.5 inches of snow, was set in 1909 and equaled in 1935.
The National Weather Service had issued a winter weather advisory for three to five inches in the Pittsburgh area.
“Considering it’s taken us almost a hundred years to exceed the record, I think it’s pretty good,” National Weather Service meteorologist Lee Hendricks said. “Frankly, it’s not official yet until midnight tonight.” Andrew GoldsteinWhite Christmas breaks daily snowfall record in Pittsburgh
The city of Pittsburgh thanked crews from the Department of Public Works in a statement for giving up their holiday time to clear roads and advised motorists to only travel if necessary and leave extra time if traveling.
The NWS forecasts snow showers likely tonight with a total accumulation of less than an inch. The temperatures will drop to about 16 degrees, with 10 to 15 mph winds and gusts up to 30 mph, putting wind chill indices in the single digits.
“This is exactly what we forecast,” Mr. Hendricks said. “The challenge in this storm system that came through was timing when the changeover went from rain to freezing or frozen precipitation. That change occurred here in the Pittsburgh area around 9 o’clock last night [Thursday].”
The chances of having a white Christmas in Pittsburgh are relatively rare, according to Mr. Hendricks. The NWS officially defines a white Christmas as an inch or more of snow on the ground at 7 p.m. on Dec. 25.
“Normally, we average an inch or more of snow on Christmas Day about 17% of the time,” Mr. Hendricks said. “Technically, a white Christmas would be one inch or more of new snow. The chance for having a trace or more of snow is about 38% of the time.”
According to the NWS, the highest snow depth on Christmas in Pittsburgh occurred in 1963, with a snow depth of 7 inches.
The NWS forecast shows temperatures are soon rising. The Pittsburgh area will remain chilly through Saturday, with highs only in the mid-20s, dropping to 17 degrees Saturday night. On Sunday, temperatures are forecast to rise to the lower 40s.
The NWS also has a flood advisory in effect for the Ohio River until Saturday evening. On Friday, the river was at 16.5 feet and was expected to rise to a crest of 18 feet at midnight.
The NWS said water begins to flow onto the North Shore riverwalk between Heinz Field and PNC Park at 19 feet.
Mr. Hendricks mentioned another system is set to arrive in Pittsburgh Sunday night into Monday, bringing a mixture of rain and snow showers. By Monday afternoon, temperatures will fall into the mid-30s.
As for New Year’s Day, the NWS forecasts mostly cloudy skies in the daytime and temperatures in the lower 30s with no major storms anticipated for New Year’s Eve.
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