Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 19, 2010

Melting ice, snow could create hazards in region

BLUEFIELD — Let the melting begin.

Temperatures are expected to soar close to 48 degrees today, and could climb as high as 52 degrees on Sunday. As a result, a slow but welcomed melt of snow and ice is finally underway across the region.

The warmer air should hold on into Monday with rain instead of snow expected as another storm system moves through the region, according to the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va. However, it could transition back to snow Monday night and into Tuesday as temperatures fall back into the 30s.

For now, warmer air and sunshine are helping to start a slow melt. That could lead to some problems, according to emergency officials.

Frozen ice and snow on roofs could begin to break, and fall off, Steve Keighton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said.

“A couple of days ago I was out in Franklin County, and we had a couple of roofs where that was happening,” Keighton said. “So it is possible that some of the significant snow on roof could begin to fall off.”

The large icicles that are hanging from many homes and businesses also could be in danger of falling with the slightly warmer temperatures.

“It’s just all going to depend upon how big they are and how well attached they are,” Keighton said.

“Anytime it gets above freezing, it is a possible threat,” Cpt. Glen Sutphin of the Bluefield Fire Department added. “We’ve had an extended period of time that we’ve had snow on roofs, and when we get close to temperatures that are close to where it is above freezing — but are not quite getting there — the natural heat escapes from your home and your business and warms the roof from underneath. So the snow and stuff is melting from underneath and the water drains down. When we get that combination of sleet , snow and freezing rain, it froze everyone’s gutters and filled the gutters up. When the water doesn’t run in the gutter, and doesn’t go in a down spout — that is what forms your icicles.”

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