The Times West Virginian

February 26, 2014

Winter conditions cause spate of wrecks

By Richard Babich
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Weather contributed to nearly 30 accidents in Marion County on Tuesday.

Dispatchers at Marion County Central Communications said Tuesday morning’s string of accidents was due to the weather, when up to 3 inches of snow covered the region during morning rush-hour traffic.

Dispatchers reported that eight of the accidents occurred at the same time within a four-mile stretch on Interstate 79. There were no reports of serious injuries.

According to the National Weather Service, Marion County was under a winter weather advisory until 11 a.m. Tuesday. AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines said the area can expect to see similar weather for a while.

“Throughout the rest of the season, we can expect the usual weekly disturbances such as the storm (Tuesday),” Kines said. “But don’t expect any storm too big.”

The weather will be favoring cold air, he said. Last week’s hot spell that turned into snow is the pattern he predicts will continue to repeat itself. This is due to the location of the jet stream, which guides weather across the country and separates the warm south from the cold north. The jet stream is currently south of West Virginia, allowing the cold air to remain around the Mountain State.

“This week, you can expect weather in the lower 20s, which is 15-20 degrees below normal,” Kines said.

He said the snowfall has been tremendous this year as well. The annual average of snowfall is 25 inches, with snow totals for this winter at about 44 inches. Kines said this is a top 15 season in terms of snowfall, but the area would need a few more large storms to get into the ballpark of the record year.

“The weather pattern is favoring cooler-than-normal temperatures,” Kines said. “When it is usually 60 degrees, it may be 55 degrees instead.”

Kines cited longe-range meteorologists who predict that the weather pattern will continue to stay in place until some time near the end of April.

“Don’t worry about spring,” Kines said. “It’s on a vacation.”

Email Richard Babich at rbabich@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @rbabichTWV.