Pitt cancels Monday classes, Port Authority resumes limited service

Liz Navratil | February 8, 2010

To many students’ joy, Pitt canceled classes today.

It was the first time in three… To many students’ joy, Pitt canceled classes today.

It was the first time in three years the University canceled a regular day of class because of the weather. Pitt also canceled classes Saturday, while the fourth largest storm in the region’s history was still covering roads and sidewalks with snow.

Pitt employees still have to work today, and the University had hoped to keep classes running. As of 4:30 p.m. yesterday, it still planned to hold classes.

Student government President Charlie Shull said he’s glad the University changed its mind. He lives in Shadyside but came down to Oakland for about four hours yesterday.

“I think students are generally going to say that it’s hard to mobilize around campus. Sidewalks are icy. I think this really was a safety issue,” he said.

Sophomore Mollie Walter said she found it hard to move around campus, especially since the University shuttles weren’t running. Pitt spokesman John Fedele said he didn’t know whether they’d be running today.

Walter’s eyes grew wider when she learned that Pitt had canceled classes. She was supposed to have an astronomy exam today.

She said she’ll use the extra time to study and to sleep.

If the weather continues, as meteorologists think it will, it’s possible she could have more time off.

Rich Redmond, a National Weather Service meteorologist, predicted that another storm will begin tomorrow morning and continue through Wednesday night. He thinks the storm will dump another 3 to 6 inches of snow on the city but said those numbers could change because the storm is still far away.

Much of the snow from this weekend’s storm remains on the ground. Forbes and Fifth avenues in Oakland are still almost completely covered with snow, making Tuesday’s storm more dangerous.

“It will compact the snow underneath it and make it almost like ice,” he said.

“When you have a storm like this in March, you know spring is coming fast,” he said, “but when you have a storm like this in January or February, and you’re right in the winter, it adds up to a lot of problems.”

The county and the state remained in a disaster emergency last night.

The Port Authority expected to have more than 100 of its about 160 routes operating today. Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie said that there might be more buses added throughout the day.

The Port Authority instructed all its drivers to pull off the road Friday night, when the roads began to get icy. The Port Authority has been slowly restoring service since then.

“We know right off the bat that it’s going to be slow going [today],” said Ritchie. Buses will have delays “and that’s going to have a domino effect throughout the day,” he said.

Riders who can’t get to their bus stop because of the snow should “flag” bus drivers by waving, the Port Authority website said.

Nearly 80,000 people throughout the county lost power during this weekend’s storm, and as of last night about 24,000 of them had yet to get it back. Saturday, county residents were asked to avoid showering, washing their dishes, drinking sink water or flushing their toilets after a water treatment plant lost power. The plant is running again.

County officials asked people to avoid driving so public works crews, power companies, police and firefighters can work. Only “essential” county offices, such as the forensic examiner’s office and the county jail, will be open today, Kevin Evanto, county spokesman, said in a news release.

Redmond, the meteorologist, said Pitt students and staff should get used to the delays and icy roads, because the temperature will stay low through this week and the next.

“That snow that’s on the ground is going to be here for quite a while,” he said.

Assistant News Editor Estelle Tran contributed to this report.