The Times West Virginian

January 8, 2014

Record-low cold brings challenges on roads, in community

By Kristen Talerico
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Marion County has broken a decades-old record for low temperatures.

“Tuesday morning, around 7 a.m., local thermometers read somewhere between minus 7 and minus 8 degrees below zero,” said Tom Kines, chief meteorologist at AccuWeather.com.

He said Monday’s weather contained record low temperatures as well, closing out at minus 4 degrees around midnight.

The extreme temperatures broke a record that had been in place since 1970.

Kines put the weather into perspective, saying the temperature will feel around 45 degrees warmer today than it did Monday or Tuesday.

However, the cold temperatures did not stop the City of Fairmont from continuing to keep the roads clear and safe for citizens.

“The most challenging aspect of keeping the roads clear is fighting the ice,” said Ron Miller, Public Works director for the City of Fairmont.

Miller said the city uses a mix of cinders, which is more for traction, and salt, which breaks up the ice and melts snow off the top of it.

“The afternoon and midnight shifts focus on the main roads, including hospitals and city streets, while the day shift runs the residential areas,” Miller said.

He said when it’s as cold as it has been this week, it can be a battle to keep the roads clear, but a little bit of sunshine goes a long way.

“It is best (if people) just stay inside and let the roads clear off,” Miller added.

During this cold snap, officials encouraged people to seek shelter in the event of an emergency. The Union Mission of Fairmont was one of the places that opened its doors to locals in need of a warm place to stay.

“We welcomed a mother and her baby in Tuesday night,” said George Batten, executive director of the Union Mission.

Batten said this type of weather is a general threat to the public and people who have inadequate living conditions during this time of year.

In addition to the Union Mission being available for assistance, the Marion County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management was on duty serving the community.

“There was no direct emergency in the area on Monday or Tuesday,” said Sabrina Haught, a captain at the department.

But she said dispatchers went “above and beyond the call of duty.”

She said an elderly woman in the community had called about her furnace being out, and the dispatchers promptly went to her house and fixed the problem.

“They called her back on Tuesday to follow up about her furnace and to make sure everything was going OK,” Haught said.

Email Kristen Talerico at ktalerico@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @KTalericoTWV.