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Winter takes another bow in W.Va.'s eastern mountains

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While it was T-shirt and shorts weather in West Virginia's eastern mountains early last week, a late season snowfall on Monday had residents of the area digging out their parkas, insulated boots and skis to deal with a brief return of wintry conditions.

Snowplows and salt trucks returned to service early in the day, treating driving surfaces along Interstate 68 between Morgantown and the Maryland border, Interstate 64 between Sam Black Church and the Virginia line, U.S. 33 between Weston and Elkins, and U.S. 48 between Wardensville and Moorefield, among other locations.

"If the snow falls, we'll be out there, no matter the time of year," said state Department of Transportation spokesman Brent Walker. "And gosh knows, we've got enough salt this year," he added, referring to West Virginia's recently concluded mildest winter in 40 years.

By mid-morning on Monday, 2.8 inches of snow had fallen on Davis, while 2.6 inches had accumulated at Terra Alta in Preston County, where all public school classes were canceled due to inclement weather. Some schools in Fayette, Mineral and Grant counties also were closed due to snow.

Accumulations of 2 inches or more also were recorded at Richwood and Mount Nebo in Nicholas County and Monterville and Kumbrabow State Forest in Randolph County. Forecasters had said a foot of snow or more might fall in parts of West Virginia, but that didn't happen.

Snow fell, but did not significantly pile up, as far south as Bluefield and as far north as Morgantown, according to the National Weather Service. Much of the snow had melted by Monday evening.

In Tucker County's Canaan Valley, Chip Chase spent part of the day on the slopes of his White Grass cross-country ski resort, which officially closed for the season more than one month ago. About 3 inches of snow had accumulated on the pastures surrounding the White Grass lodge, and 5 inches or more had stacked up on the adjacent slopes of Weiss Knob and Cabin Mountain.

With winter weather ending so early this year, "we had plenty of time to get caught up on our spring chores," Chase said. "With the snow starting to blow and drift in the grassy fields, I thought I'd take time to enjoy it."

Chase said a late April snow of the magnitude experienced on Monday "is about a once-in-every-10-years event," although relatively heavy snows have occurred in May.

Monday's snowfall did not come close to making a list of the top five April snow days on record for the Elkins area, as compiled by the staff at the National Weather Service's Charleston forecast office.

A record-setting one-day April snowfall of 10 inches fell on the Randolph County city on April 28, 1928. There was an 8.8-inch snowfall on April 9, 1987. Rounding out the list were snowfalls of 8.7 inches on April 9, 1986; 8.2 inches on April 3, 1987, and 7.3 inches on April 6, 1990.

By daybreak Tuesday, those living in the state's northern and eastern mountains can expect to see more snow on the ground.

A winter storm warning was in effect until 2 a.m. for Tucker and Preston counties, where the National Weather Service predicted 6 to 10 inches of wet snow could accumulate, accompanied by brisk winds.

Winter weather advisories were in effect for the mountainous portions of Mineral, Grant and Pendleton counties, where 2- to 5-inch accumulations of wet snow were forecast, and for the mountains of Nicholas, Webster, Upshur, Barbour, Pocahontas and Randolph counties, where up to 4 inches of snow were predicted.

As the winter storm swept toward an exit to the north, colder and drier air began to seep into the central part of West Virginia from the west, according to the National Weather Service. Widespread freeze warnings were in effect for Tuesday morning from the Ohio River Valley to the central mountains.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.

 


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