Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 17, 2013

‘Tricky’ snow storm expected to follow record rainfall in Bluefield

BLUEFIELD —  Before the temperature drops early this afternoon, the storm now ripping up the spine of the Allegheny Mountain Range has already proved to be a complex meteorological system, according to Peter Corrigan, a meteorologist/hydrological expert with the National Weather Service office in Blacksburg, Va.

“You have already had a record event in Bluefield for Jan. 16,” Corrigan said Wednesday evening. “We measure those events from midnight to midnight, and you’ve already set a new record in Bluefield in terms of precipitation. We set a new record in Blacksburg, Va., the day before. The old record in Bluefield was .28 of an inch of precipitation and you already have .51 of an inch. That doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a new record for Jan. 16.”

Corrigan characterized the on-coming snow storm as “tricky.”

“We already issued a winter storm warning in your area, and we’re predicting as much as 4-6 inches of snow starting early (this) afternoon,” Corrigan said. “This storm is so complex, that it is hard to predict how much snow you will get.

“Areas to the east will likely get more rain than you will, but in the mountains, there will be some narrow bands where you could get upwards of eight inches of snow, and some areas where you might only get three inches,” he said. “It all depends on how the cold air comes in and mixes with the moisture.”

Corrigan predicted that the accumulation will likely be less on the northern slopes of the mountains, unlike most winter storms that come from the northwest. “This is a complex weather pattern that is unique,” Corrigan said. “There’s going to be rain ahead of the snow, and how hard it snows will be determined by the cold air pushing into your area.”

The rain that pounded the region Tuesday night and Wednesday pushed against stream banks throughout the region. Police in Richlands, Va., reported flooding on River Road and Third Street early Wednesday and the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office reported stream levels on the rise and some isolated slides.

Welch Mayor Reba Honaker said that there were some slides in the city, but they were quickly cleared by the street department. Shannon Bailey, executive director of the Sanitary Board of Bluefield said water was coming out of the storm drains on College Avenue for a while, but the system soon handled the rain.

“We have crews out clearing gravel and debris from the streets to keep the drains from getting stopped up,” Bailey said.

The New River swelled outside its banks in the Stock Pen Section of Narrows, Va., according to Giles County Sheriff W. Morgan Millirons. “It got as high as up to the steps on a trailer parked at a campground there at Stock Pen, but it didn’t do any damage,” Millirons said.

Appalachian Power officials have placed contract line workers, damage assessors and tree crews on alert for the predicted heavy, wet snow, according to an APCO press release. APCO urged area residents to have an emergency kit ready with flashlights, battery powered radios or televisions, candles, matches or lighters, water for drinking or cooking, a portable heater, camping gear, a manual can opener and more. For more information, visit AppalachianPower.com on line and the section, “Outages and Problems.”

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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