The winter storm that blew into southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia on Thursday dropped snowfall totals ranging from 10 inches to a foot of snow, forced a closure of I-77 in both Virginias and left thousands of people in the dark.
The snowfall total in Bluefield was 10 inches, but several areas on the southern slope of East River Mountain received as much as a foot or more of snow. With temperatures dropping to 23 degrees, the heavy rain that fell in advance of the storm formed a solid sheet of thick ice this morning leading to wrecks throughout the region.
Sgt., M.S. Haynes, assistant detachment commander of the Princeton Detachment of the West Virginia State Police, said several trucks are parked on U.S. Route 460 near Exit 9 of I-77 waiting for the interstate to re-open. A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Transportation reported that I-77 northbound in Bland County was cleared at 4 a.m., but the southbound lanes of I-77 at the 56 mile marker remained closed due to a tractor-trailer wreck.
At 9:25 a.m., VDOT reported that I-77 has been cleared between the East River Mountain and Big Walker Mountain tunnels. Traffic was starting to clear from Mercer County.
Power outages were plentiful in the region. Bland County, Va., has a little more than 6,000 residents, and Appalachian Power reported 3,257 power outages in Bland this morning. Giles County, Va., had 6,518 outages reported and APCO reported 2,768 outages in Buchanan County.
West Virginia counties fares a little better with Monroe County having 1,585 customers without power, 1,061 in Mercer County and 542 in McDowell.
The Bluefield Daily Telegraph will report more on this story through the day today.