The Times West Virginian

January 6, 2014

County braces for record-low temperatures

Shelters on standby; schools undecided

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Fairmont could possibly break its record low temperature Tuesday morning.

In 1942, the city hit a record low of minus 9 degrees. The Friendly City has a pretty good shot at breaking that record Tuesday morning, when temperatures are expected to start off at 10 below zero, said AccuWeather.com meteorologist Carl Erickson.

He explained that pretty big weather changes are arriving. By day break today, most temperatures across the region will be near or a little below freezing. The temperature when people wake up this morning will be the high for the day.

A strong cold front coming through the area today and will cause temperatures to fall quickly. By noon, the temperature will be in the teens, and in single digits by 4 or 5 p.m. The numbers will continue to drop, especially tonight after 1 or 2 a.m., Erickson said.

As the cold front moves through the area, a band of rain will come with it and may change to snow, he said. The region could get a coating of 1 or 2 inches of snow.

Erickson said the dropping temperatures could lead to a rapid freeze up for the commute this morning. The coating of snow will make the roads even more icy and treacherous for traveling.

Tonight will be the coldest night, with the forecast calling for a low of minus 10, which doesn’t even factor in the wind, he said. With the wind, the temperature will feel like 25 or 30 below zero tonight.

Erickson said on Tuesday, the temperature might get to 3 or 4 above zero, but with the wind chills, will still feel like minus 25 or 30 degrees.

As of late Sunday night, Superintendent of Schools Gary Price said Marion County was going to try to make every effort to still hold school today, but a final decision had not yet been made at the time.

Due to the extreme cold that’s coming, he said there’s a strong possibility that activities like sports will be canceled tonight and there’s also a good chance that school will be closed Tuesday. A delay could potentially be implemented Wednesday, too.

However, Price said the administration hates to jump to conclusions too fast and has to wait and see what happens. None of these decisions were finalized as of press time.

According to its Facebook page, the Marion County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is paying close attention to these weather developments. As of Sunday evening, the department requested that designated shelters remain on standby starting today.

The National Weather Service has announced wind chill warnings for the majority of West Virginia beginning tonight. Some extreme temperatures forecast for other cities in the state tonight are minus 12 degrees in Elkins, minus 9 degrees in Beckley, minus 7 degrees in Huntington and minus 5 degrees in Charleston, according to the Associated Press.

West Virginia’s western counties could see 1 to 2 inches of snow. Approximately 2 to 5 inches of snow is anticipated for Mercer, Summers and Greenbrier counties, including up to 9 inches of snow in western Greenbrier County, the AP reported.

Following this intense cold, the temperatures will moderate toward the middle of the week, Erickson said.

By Wednesday, the wind will go away and the high will be near 30. Temperatures in the lower 40s are anticipated for Thursday, and that number could rise to the lower 50s for Friday or Saturday, he said.

Erickson urged people to be cautious during this severe shot of cold.

“Use common sense,” he said. “If you do have to go out, make sure you’re appropriately dressed. Be very careful.”

Residents should make sure their exposed skin is covered, because frostbite or hypothermia could set in within minutes in these temperatures. Persons should also be sure to check on the elderly and people who live alone, Erickson said.

In addition, this is the kind of weather where water pipes — especially in older homes and structures with exposed pipes or basement areas — could burst. People should take appropriate prevention measures, he said.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.