Jaguars fans struggle to get to Pittsburgh, endure cold

Winter storm affects fans' travel plans

PITTSBURGH – Fans headed to see the NFL divisional playoff game in Pittsburgh who are not already there may have trouble getting to town because of a winter storm that moved in Friday night.

News4Jax chief meteorologist John Gaughan said 3 to 6 inches of snow would fall between Friday evening and Saturday morning, followed by sub-freezing temperatures.

On Friday, some fans were met with a day filled with travel troubles. Jaguars fans Matt Sheppard and Kyle Register flew from Jacksonville to Atlanta, but then their flight to Pittsburgh was canceled, so they were rebooked on a flight with a layover in New York. But then that flight was also canceled.

"If we would have waited until the next direct flight from Atlanta to Pittsburgh, we could have got on it and we would already be in Pittsburgh right now," Register said. "That’s very frustrating, because now we’re having to drive. It looks like 6½ more hours when we could already be in Pittsburgh right now if we would have waited."

Sheppard and Register decided to rent a car, and are attempting to drive to the game.  

"It’s disappointing, but for us, since we have this extra day of buffer, since the game is not until Sunday, we are just looking at it as a nice adventure," Sheppard said. "We have already been to three major cities today. We are driving through New York City now. You can’t see much because it’s foggy, but I feel like I’m on 'The Amazing Race.'"

For fans wanting to get to Pittsburgh by car, Gaughan said driving may be an issue. Snow is forecast for all of western Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Turnpike has a reputation for not getting cleared quickly.

After the snow passes, the sun will come out, but it will be really, really cold. Gaughan said daytime highs will remain not make it out of the teens, and the wind chill will make it feel like single digits -- the coldest temperatures the Jaguars have faced all season.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he is headed to Pittsburgh for the game, but didn't say how he planned to get there.

Though many fans had their travel plans impacted by the winter storm, some Jaguars fans were able to make the trip early ahead of Sunday's AFC Divisional Round matchup at Heinz Field. 

Despite the soon-to-be snowy and icy Friday night in Pittsburgh, the Jaguars were still on the minds of fans, including Steelers fans. 

"It’s probably going to be a really good game," Steelers fan Stephen Chamberlain told News4Jax. "They played us really well the last time, we took a little bit of a beating. We had a lot of turnovers and hopefully that part of it will get changed this go-around to make things a little more interesting."

Stephen and Karen Chamberlain haven't forgotten about the game earlier this season when the Jaguars picked off Ben Roethlisberger five times en route to a 30-9 win.

"It was a bad game. That’s all it was, you know, they got down on Ben. They shamed him a little bit, and it hurt us," Karen said. "We are coming back."

Both are hoping for a different outcome this weekend. 

"I think anytime you take a beating during the season, it’s going to be motivation," Stephen said.  "And on top of that, we are in the playoffs. Whoever wins gets to go and the other guys go home."

News4Jax will be also be in Pittsburgh all weekend. Watch for live reports and web updates all weekend.