Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 29, 2012

‘Frankenstorm’ approaches region, strong winds, blizzard-like conditions predicted; APCO on alert

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — The historic superstorm pounding the East Coast could bring blizzard-like conditions to southern West Virginia.

Snow is already falling across the region, and a blizzard warning has been issued by the National Weather Service in Charleston for McDowell, Buchanan, Wyoming and Raleigh counties. Mercer, Tazewell and Monroe counties remain under a winter storm warning and high wind warning.

Forecasters are predicting between 4 to 8 inches of heavy wet snow in elevations above 2,500 feet, which includes Bluefield and other parts of the region. The combination of heavy wet snow and strong gusty winds of between 35 mph to up to 50 mph  are expected to topple trees and power lines, according to the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va.

The strong winds from Hurricane Sandy — which is combining with a snow storm to create a rare hybrid superstorm — are expected to begin this afternoon and continue into Tuesday. Blizzard-like conditions are possible Tuesday with the strong winds and heavy snow, according to the National Weather Service.

An additional 400 crews with Appalachian Power are now on stand-by in Princeton and Beckley in the event of widespread power outages.

“We are going to be lodging people in both Princeton and Beckley because this looks like that is going to be where we expect the worse outages could occur due to this snowfall,” Jeri Matheney, a corporate communications manager for Appalachian Power, said. “They will be starting to move in today so that they will be ready to go tomorrow morning.”

Matheny said heavy wet snow — combined with strong winds — could result in power outages.

In McDowell County, 911 emergency officials are asking residents to prepare for blizzard-like conditions by stockpiling three to five days worth of food, water, medicine, fuel, blankets and batteries for flashlights, Cathy Patton, a spokeswoman for the McDowell County Commission, said.

Patton said emergency shelters will be opened as needed. She said residents with emergencies are asked to call 911. Patton said information regarding shelters will be announced by the local media.

James Clark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., said strong gusty winds will begin to pick up this afternoon into tonight.

“We are looking at sustained winds on the order of 25 to 30 mph when it peaks out, and they could get up to 50 on the sustained,” Clark said.

Clark said the strong wind and snow could make for limited visibility at times.