- Associated Press - Sunday, March 2, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Crews across the southern quarter of the state were preparing for a storm Sunday that threatened to drop six to eight inches of snow and lead to a messy Monday morning commute.

The National Weather Service said a cold front moved farther south than anticipated, possibly taking with it much of the heavier snow forecast across the southern part of Pennsylvania into Monday. Dire forecasts from a few days ago, which predicted the storm would drop up to a foot of snow on some parts of southern Pennsylvania, were based on an expected one-two punch of snow, according to Michael Kennedy, the senior meteorologist at the agency’s suburban Pittsburgh office.

The first band arrived in western Pennsylvania as predicted, though a bit sooner than originally thought, as snow began falling in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas about dawn Sunday. That system tapered off in the afternoon in western Pennsylvania, and was expected to bring freezing rain turning to snow farther east as night fell.

A second band of snow was expected to hit western Pennsylvania after midnight and dump more snow into early Monday afternoon as it moved through Philadelphia. But it now appears that second system will move farther south, either missing southern Pennsylvania or dropping far less snow than originally predicted, Kennedy said.

“That’s the main difference in how the forecast has really changed, the second wave is not going to be as significant as first thought,” Kennedy said.

Still, officials weren’t taking chances.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter declared a snow emergency as of 10 p.m. Sunday and cancelled Monday trash collection. Four to six inches of snow were forecast for most parts of the city and its suburbs.

“Due to the expected heavy accumulations, it will take at least 48 hours after the storm ends to reach residential streets,” Nutter said at a news conference.

Philadelphia school officials also announced public schools would be closed on Monday.

Victoria Lupica, a spokeswoman for Philadelphia International Airport, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that most airlines reported reducing flight activity until noon on Monday.

“We are fully staffed and prepared to treat all paved surfaces when precipitation begins,” she said.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority planned to begin alerting commuters to weather-related detours and delays of bus and train service by 4 a.m. Monday. And Amtrak announced it would operate on a modified snow schedule in the Northeast Monday, including fewer trains providing Keystone Service from Harrisburg through Philadelphia to New York.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said crews were pretreating bridges, hills and curves on busy roads, and some 24 snow plows were waiting to be deployed if the second wave of snow makes that necessary.

“The forecast and the storm can change quickly and the Department of Public Works remains at the ready for a much larger snow event should the city receive one,” Peduto said in a statement.

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