CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginians on Sunday braced for a wintry blow from the coming megastorm, with the unusual mix of weather systems expected to bring a blizzard to mountainous areas and strong winds, heavy snow and possible flooding and outages to other parts.
The storm -- a combination of Hurricane Sandy, a cold front from the west and high pressure from the north -- presents a variety of concerns to West Virginians, depending on their location.
Late Sunday, the National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings from midday Monday through Wednesday afternoon in 10 counties. They are Fayette, McDowell, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Preston, Raleigh, Randolph, Tucker, Webster and Wyoming counties.
The highest ridge tops, including near ski resorts, could receive up to 2 feet of heavy, wet snow, along with wind gusts of up to 50 mph that reduce visibility to zero and bring down tree limbs
Four other counties were under a winter storm warning: Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe and Summers. Those could see up to 8 inches of snow. High winds are expected as far west as Charleston, Huntington and eastern Kentucky.
"This is one of the most interesting storms I've ever seen," said Barb Miller, emergency services director in Jefferson, the state's easternmost county. "Even this morning [Sunday], they still can't say exactly where it's going to hit."
Snow was forecast to start falling Sunday night and continue through Wednesday morning from McDowell County northeast to Preston County.
Other areas of the state will see a mix of rain and snow, especially Monday night and Tuesday.
Wind gusts up to 60 mph were likely Monday and Tuesday in Berkeley, Hampshire, Grant, Hardy, Jefferson, Mineral, Morgan and Pendleton counties. Combined with heavy rains, that could lead to significant tree damage, the weather service said.
Flooding also was possible in both panhandles and portions of northern West Virginia.
T.D. Lively of the state Division of Homeland Security said the American Red Cross has placed several of its shelters on standby, adding that "typically West Virginia doesn't have a large need for sheltering because people tend to stay with family."