FAIRMONT — Cold and snow.
That’s what the area can expect in the coming days according to Shannon Hefferan, meteorologist at the National Weather Service. Temperatures are not meant to get above freezing, with Wednesday wind chills that hit as low as seven degrees.
The next system moved through the area Wednesday night. A winter weather watch was out but only for Tucker and Preston counties. Hefferan said to expect snowfall totals for Thursday into Friday to reach from three to four inches in the area. Today, temperatures might get above freezing, but Hefferan said motorists should be on the lookout for icy road conditions.
“Over night time hours as temperatures drop to the 20s that’s really the time frame where we expect the road conditions to deteriorate and that’s throughout the whole system” she said.
Today into Friday, road conditions could be quite icy. The morning and evening commute could be quite dicey today.
“I think we have, this weekend, looks like high pressure finally kind of builds around the area but there probably will be some left over remaining snow showers on Saturday morning but it looks like we get our drier air,” she said.
However, temperatures will still be very cold over the weekend so snow will not melt. She said temperatures could hit teens and single digits. Into Sunday, it’s more of the same. Hefferan said it could get a bit warmer with temperatures going above freezing to the mid-40’s.
“That’s probably your best bet for a comfortable day with no precipitation expected at moment. Kind of climbing out of the cold snap that we see,” she said.
Another system is expected at the beginning of the week, and Hefferan said it looks like a mix of rain and snow.
“We’ll have to monitor that one to see what’s going on. We do kind of break out of our pattern of grabbing moisture from the gulf and more so getting it up from Canada,” she said.
Snow looks to be a big player in the forecast for the rest of February with breaks in between.
“We’ll see how this kind of pans out,” she said.
Captain Brian Starn of the Fairmont Fire Department said as far as fire hazards go with snowfall, he said residents should keep their doorways and paths snow and ice free so first responders can have access in case of emergency.
“With the cold weather, I know a lot of people employ using space heaters and those kind of things. Space heaters typically need to be kept away from other objects. Electrical ones you need to keep away from water sources,” said Starn.
If a space heater runs on fuel that gives off poisonous gas, Starn said, the area needs to be vented so the user will not be overcome with carbon monoxide. Cleaning chimneys is also a big thing that needs to be done before winter. Buildup in a chimney can get hot and ignite.
Starn said the crew prepares for bad weather by putting chains on the tires of their trucks and making sure they’re ready for deployment.
“In really deep snow storms where it accumulates a lot there’s times where we have to go out and clear hydrants, shovel around hydrants and make sure they’re visible and accessible in the event there is a fire,” said Starn.
Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Riffle said a lot of the calls received by the fire department, especially when the weather is really bad, are related to single vehicle accidents This is usually a result of someone driving a little faster than they should or unnecessary travel.
“We hope everybody is well aware of the weather conditions and the roadway conditions. It’s always a good idea to keep up with that and if you have to go out just be aware that it’s going to take a little bit longer to get to where you want to go,” said Riffle.
Riffle advised keeping a charged phone nearby. If someone needs to go somewhere, tell a friend or family member where you are going and check it once you get there. Keeping emergency supplies in a vehicle are also never a bad idea. A blanket, water and snacks can be tucked away in case of emergency.
“Suppose you were to have a mechanical issue and help were to take some time even when the weather is good and warm. I would recommend that to anybody,” said Riffle.
At the direction of Gov. Jim Justice, 27 members of the West Virginia National Guard were mobilizing to assist local communities in response to the effects of winter storm damage that occurred Monday.
Equipment such as chainsaws, skid steers, dump trucks, and equipment transporters and trailers were deployed along with equipment operators to the heaviest impacted areas. Teams of liaison officers were deployed to each county to assist with logistics and communications between Guard teams and local first responders and authorities.