Cold snap to continue through weekend, at least

·4 min read

Jan. 18—Cold temperatures and icy winds on Sunday led to an unexpectedly high number of people seeking shelter at a local warming station, United Way of Southern West Virginia Executive Director Trena Dacal reported Monday.

There were 23 people using the warming shelter on Sunday night, the sixth night that the warming station was open at Beckley Community United Methodist Church at 217 S. Heber St., she reported.

"I was surprised by last night's number," Dacal said on Monday, as the Beckley area was under a winter storm warning until 10 p.m. "The greatest number prior to that had been six, and I expected it to grow a little bit last night, based on the weather."

The warming station is a place for those with inadequate shelter to sleep and keep warm in inclement weather. It opens at 8 p.m. and will be available while freezing temperatures have a grip on southern West Virginia. Dacal said it is a community project that is supported by a number of local organizations.

The shelter is seeking volunteers to work four-hour shifts, and Beckley Rotary Club is asking for donations of blankets, Dacal reported. Volunteers may email her at tdacal@unitedwaysouthernwv.com to sign up for shifts.

Dacal said that volunteers do not ask guests about their personal situations. The warming station is open to all who need shelter during the cold weather, due to inadequate housing or heat.

National Weather Service meteorologists reported that temperatures will remain low in southern West Virginia throughout the week, particularly overnight. On Monday night, temperatures were expected to be in the upper teens or lower 20s in most of the region. Predictions of below-freezing temperatures and high wind gusts prompted school closures in several counties, along with class cancellations at West Virginia University Institute of Technology on Tuesday.

Tamarack also closed early Monday and is expected to reopen Wednesday, due to inclement weather conditions.

Dennis Sleithter, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., warned that Tuesday will bring scattered snow showers with minor accumulations to Lewisburg and surrounding areas. Lower elevations will likely see less than an inch, but those in western Greenbrier County and at the Pocahontas and Nicholas county lines could get up to two inches of snow.

High wind gusts will continue throughout the region, with temperatures possibly warming to the freezing point (32 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday and up to the lower 40s on Wednesday.

On Wednesday night, rain will start, and temperatures will drop, said Sleithter.

"We'll see rain move in Wednesday night, but, as temperatures fall, that will transition to snow by probably around midnight, heading Wednesday into Thursday," he said.

Accumulation is expected to be less than two inches in most places, but temperatures will drop on Thursday into the mid- or high-20s, and the frigid weather will continue on Friday and into Saturday.

"It will be slightly warmer Sunday, but not by too much," he advised.

He reported that highs will be around the upper 20s and lower 30s around Lewisburg on Sunday and into the early part of next week.

"It looks like pretty typical or slightly below normal temperatures for this time of year," he said.

NWS in Charleston reported that Raleigh, Fayette, Wyoming, Summers and Nicholas counties could see scattered snow showers with low temperatures around 15 and west winds of 15 to 20 mph on Monday night, with a 50 percent chance of snow.

Sunny skies are expected for Tuesday, with isolated snow showers possible and high temperatures in the mid-30s.

On Wednesday, highs were predicted to be in the mid-40s, and precipitation was likely. Temperatures are expected to drop back to the lower 20s on Wednesday night. Precipitation is very likely for Wednesday, NWS meteorologists reported.

On Thursday, snow is possible and the highs will reach the mid-20s. During Thursday night, the lows will drop to 10 degrees, and the wind chill factor will be as low as zero.

On a positive note, the weather had caused few electricity outages in the region on Monday, American Electric Power (AEP) spokesman Phil Moye reported.

"We're doing well in southern West Virginia," he said, adding that fewer than five customers were without power on Monday in each of the counties of Raleigh, Fayette, Monroe, Nicholas and Wyoming.

Greenbrier County had 38 customers without power on Monday night, he added.

"Most outages in West Virginia are in Kanawha County," Moye said, adding that around 10,000 Kanawha customers were without power Monday.

He said heavy, wet snowfall caused the outages in Kanawha.

"Southern counties had drier snow and some sleet, which is not as damaging to trees or electric infrastructure."