The Times West Virginian

March 4, 2014

Area digs out after more snow

By Richard Babich
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Another large winter storm caused delays and accidents in the area Monday, but there were not as many accidents or injuries as in recent storms.

Sunday saw nearly 20 vehicle accidents, with four people being transported to hospitals for treatment. Monday saw several weather-related accidents with no injuries reported.

According to 911 officials, the majority of incidents Monday morning were related to cars being stuck in the snow. Officials said there was still a larger-than-usual volume of calls due to the weather.

Motorists were reminded to be cautious while driving and to allow for extra time to arrive at a destination. Marion County officials suggested that area motorists wait for the Division of Highways to plow the roads.

Jeff Pifer, maintenance engineer for the West Virginia Division of Highways, said the snow accumulation determines when plow trucks begin to work.

“Timing is everything,” Pifer said. “(Weather) is not perfectly predictable.”

According to Pifer, the Division of Highways workers knew the storm was coming well in advance and had time to prepare. He said plow trucks can be used only once 2-3 inches of snow are on the road.

This winter has netted nearly 2 feet more snow than an average year. According to AccuWeather.com meteorologist Erik Pindrock, the area has seen nearly 50 inches of snow this year.

“Most of the weather is here because the jet stream is so south,” Pindrock said. “Spring is on a hiatus ... because of the jet stream.”

Pindrock says residents in North Central West Virginia can expect another event or two of wintry weather.

“As long as the jet stream is to the south, well into March we can get wintry precipitation,” Pindrock said.

As the Times West Virginian reported last week, Marion County Central Communication officials have stated there has been a larger volume of calls, but law enforcement and first response personnel have responded in a timely manner.

The above-average snow accumulation has affected the Division of Highways, according to Pifer.

“With the bad weather, there is a salt shortage,” Pifer said. “With what we have left, we have to make it last.”

Pindrock said the jet stream remaining south may be because of the polar vortex. But he said warmer days are on the way.

“Friday looks to be a brief reprieve from the arctic air,” Pindrock said. “Friday will be in the 50s and partly sunny.”

According to the Associated Press, on the latest snow day in a winter full of them, residents of parts of the South, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast were coping with several inches of snow on top of a layer of slush.

Government offices and schools were also closed throughout Delaware, parts of which got 6-plus inches.

Further south, there were more problems. The Richmond, Va., area got several inches of snow, and Virginia State Police troopers had responded to more than 800 traffic crashes across the state by 3 p.m. Monday. Police reported one fatal weather-related crash southeast of Richmond.

Governors declared states of emergency in Virginia and Tennessee, where there were hundreds of traffic crashes and tens of thousands of power outages.

More than 2,800 flights in the United States were canceled as of Monday afternoon, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.com. The bulk of the problems were at airports in Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

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