Windy, wet conditions predicted for Kanawha
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County is looking at 2 to 3 inches of rain precipitation and wind gusts that could reach up to 55 miles per hour as the effects of Hurricane Sandy approached the state late Monday and into early Tuesday, officials with the National Weather Service said Monday evening.
NWS meteorologist Andrew Beavers said a wind advisory remains in effect until 5 p.m. Tuesday for Kanawha and several other counties, including Putnam, Boone and Lincoln.
Winds were anticipated to reach 15 to 20 miles per hour with gusts reaching 55 miles per hour. The strongest currents were expected to peak Monday night and carry into Tuesday's early morning commute.
The anticipated poor conditions prompted Kanawha County officials to postpone trick-or-treating countywide until Thursday, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Forecaster Dave Marsalek said the National Weather Service expects only 1 to 2 inches of snowfall in the hills of southern Kanawha County through this evening, but county emergency crews aren't taking any chances.
Dale Petry, director of emergency services for Kanawha County, said most of Tuesday's snowfall in the county would affect homes along the West Virginia Turnpike. An emergency shelter was activated Monday night at the Pratt Volunteer Fire Department for area residents, he said.
"Everything we're seeing has the snow more northeast," Petry said. "But we're not by any means putting our guard down. Our staff is standing by watching the storm in case something does happen."
Petry said emergency officials have met twice a day since Friday to get updates on the storm's movements. He said fire departments around the county were notified Monday to stock up on shelter items.
The American Red Cross was also notified and will provide emergency items if needed. Petry said the Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Sissonville would also provide a shelter.
Yeager Airport Director Rick Atkinson said all flights to and from New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Houston were canceled Monday and Tuesday. The affected flights average about 700 passengers a day.
However, Monday's regularly scheduled flight to Myrtle Beach took off as usual and flights to and from Atlanta, Detroit and Charlotte, N.C., were to continue.
Atkinson said weather officials were still predicting only rain for Yeager. But temperatures at the airport were hovering around 35 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday afternoon. "It doesn't take much temperature drop for it to turn to snow," he said.
The Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority put county buses on standby to provide emergency transportation if needed, and the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority was sending five county ambulances to Fort Dix in New Jersey to help with emergency efforts there.
Julia Ruthford, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, said the state had seen relatively little rainfall as of 10:30 a.m. Monday, with just over half an inch of precipitation recorded in Charleston by Monday morning.
However, rainfall totals are expected to increase significantly as the storm continues to roll in. Up to 4 inches of rain was expected in some parts of the state by the end of the day Tuesday.
"We're fortunate at the outset of this storm to start out with dry soil conditions," Ruthford said.
The dry conditions buy a little more time before the ground becomes saturated, but with up to 4 inches of rain predicted in 24 hours, flooding is possible.
Around Charleston Monday, city workers vacuumed leaves to help prevent clogged storm drains as the rains picked up.
Putnam County and the city of Hurricane also rescheduled trick-or-treating from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday. Likewise, Jackson County rescheduled trick-or-treating for Thursday.
Nitro's annual Halloween Hoedown was postponed until 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday.